Ireland

Ireland dare to dream

Sun, 09 Feb 2014 08:34
Paul-o_connell-ireland-team
It is going to be a big step up
Quote-end

Ireland's trip to face England at Twickenham in a fortnight is looming large as a potential Six Nations tournament decider.

Ireland not only cemented their place at the top of the standings, but also put a huge dent in Welsh hopes of a record third Six Nations title in a row - with a clinical display in Dublin's Lansdowne Road at the weekend as they ran out 26-3 winners.

While bot coach Joe Schmidt and captain Paul O'Connell tried to downplay the February 22 showdown with England, they admitted it will be a key match.

"To be honest, I'm not thinking too far ahead," Schmidt said with a cautious tone, after his team demolished the Welsh.

"We'll get together in Clonmel for a few days, [next week] Wednesday and Thursday and try to review what we've done in the first two weeks and plot a course going forward to Twickenham.

"That's a massive game, they were very unlucky last week in Paris [England lost 24-26].

"The English dominated long periods of that game so they will be incredibly difficult to beat."

O'Connell described the trip to Twickenham as "massive".

"It doesn't matter how many times you have done it before," the Irish captain said.

Both the coach and captain talked up the English as title contenders, despite and opening round loss to the French.

"England will be disappointed with the French game, as [coach] Joe [Schmidt] they dominated long parts of that game.

"They are an incredibly physical side.

"I worked with [defence coach] Andy Farrell on the [B&I] Lions tour and they have great line-speed. They do put tams under pressure and force teams into mistakes.

"I feel they [England] are growing in confidence all the time, so it is going to be incredibly difficult for us.

"When we saw the fixture list in the back of our minds we thought we would be in a good place with two [wins] from two home games, but I think the competition now gets a whole lot harder when you go to Twickenham.

"It is going to be a big step up."

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