Can Ireland stop England from achieving history?
- Author: Zachary Reyes Mar 18, 2017,
Mar 18, 2017, 8:42
"He's new in with England and a fresh voice, a fresh atmosphere and they're obviously feeding off of him at the moment".
Joe Schmidt's men will be desperate to recapture the adulation that followed Ireland's stunning 40-29 win over New Zealand in Chicago in November.
"We are ready as a team to take that next step", he said.
Jones has one of the most impressive CVs in the rugby world: guiding the ACT Brumbies to their first Super Rugby title; winning the Tri-Nations and reaching a World Cup final with Australia; joining South Africa's backroom staff as they achieved a second World Cup title and bamboozling the same team with minnows Japan at the last tournament.
"I see our motivation and desire to win the game as probably higher than Ireland's because we have got so much to win".
It gives British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland one final look at potential tourists in an worldwide environment, it provides Wales, Scotland and Ireland a chance for redemption with World Cup consequences looming while for England, a place in rugby history is on the line.
The forecast for Dublin is rain, clearing later, which is a factor that England will need to be wary of, given the expected aerial bombardment from Schmidt's kickers.
Only three England sides have won consecutive Grand Slams, and all occurred before the introduction of Italy in 2000.
Amy Wilson Hardy, Laura Keates, Amy Cokayne, Leah Lyons, Emily Scarratt and Lydia Thompson all scored tries in Donnybrook as England won their first RBS 6 Nations title since 2012.
"[It's a] Big regret, but look I feel like I'm in a good place, and time will tell".
Ireland weren't helped by the absence of their talismanic half-backs.
Sexton will be without regular half-back partner Conor Murray, who has failed to recover from a shoulder injury suffered against Wales, for a match where an Ireland win could still see them finish second in the Championship.
Jones, benefitting from England's large playing base and years of good youth development, has created a bench of replacements or "finishers" as he calls them who would start in many another side.
Rob Kearney played well against Wales but someone like Jared Payne would be an unknown threat. Sean O'Brien v James Haskell is a heavyweight showdown, as is CJ Stander's head-to-head with Maro Itoje.
But Jones' career has certainly not been a bed of roses; he lost his Wallabies job in 2005 after his side were defeated seven times in a row before he struggled to make an impact at Queensland Reds following his green and gold dismissal. "What we have is an unbelievable amount of clarity around how we want to play", Youngs says.
"When we came off against Scotland we were straight on to Ireland", says the Leicester No9.
Global sides have started to take England's form seriously.
England has only ever had one 100 cap player in Jason Leonard, but some of these players could go on to hit that figure and more.