Ireland wary of ‘scary’ England

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Published: Wednesday 18th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Les Kiss has warned that George Ford’s “scary relationship” with Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson could derail Ireland’s quest to retain the RBS 6 Nations title.

Defence specialist Kiss has admitted Ireland’s coaches were shocked by England’s new-found attacking fluency when preparing for the pivotal Six Nations clash in Dublin on March 1.

Ireland and England are the Six Nations’ only remaining unbeaten sides, but Kiss has denied that the winners at the Aviva Stadium will stride onwards to the title.

Former Australia rugby league star Kiss also revealed wariness of England’s bullish back row and the cameo threat of in-vogue fly-half Danny Cipriani.

“Our preparation starts with the analysis and that’s been pretty scary with what they can do,” said Kiss.

“If you look at that scary relationship in midfield with George Ford, and he has a relationship already with Watson and Joseph, those types of combinations seem to be coming through for them nicely.

“I think also their back row has been brilliant, James Haskell and Billy Vunipola are big threats and Chris Robshaw is excellent.

“The momentum that they give them is critical for them and they can take the ball deep and still make yards.”

Bath fly-half Ford will win just his ninth cap if he faces Ireland in Dublin, but the 21-year-old looks increasingly composed in the Test arena.

Fleet-footed centre Joseph is already being likened to England great Jeremy Guscott, while flyer Watson’s trickery has added guile out wide, completing a threatening Bath trio.

Sale fly-half Cipriani climbed off the bench to score a try in his first Twickenham Test appearance in seven years in Saturday’s 47-17 victory over Italy, while Wasps flanker Haskell is another rejuvenated England star.

Ireland coach Kiss believes Joe Schmidt’s side face a tall order to contain Stuart Lancaster’s increasingly-confident side in a match that could define this year’s Six Nations.

“You’ve got to be really on your game and make sure you do hit and stick in your tackles,” said Kiss.

“You’ve got to get them to the deck early, make them make decisions about how they load their attack.

“They are loaded across the park and they have got options too. Cipriani comes on late and shows some magic as well.

“The analysis of it has opened our eyes to the challenge ahead and what it presents.

“W ith the type of competition this is, it’s not going to be over until the last game, no matter what happens in the next match.

“There are more surprises to come, Scotland have more to come, the French can be dangerous still and Wales will keep coming.

“I don’t think the result in the next fortnight will determine the tournament at all.”

Ireland held an open training session at Connacht’s Sports Ground in Galway on Wednesday, with Tommy Bowe and Keith Earls sitting out parts of the action purely to manage their workloads.

Kiss confirmed Ireland do not have any new injury concerns and moved to downplay the impact of Johnny Sexton returning to France for Racing Metro action this weekend.

The 29-year-old will face a stern examination against Clermont for his Paris club side, just a week after being clattered about the Aviva Stadium by Mathieu Bastareaud on his return after a 12-week concussion absence.

“Johnny’s a pro and he’ll get back and get in front of things in terms of the computers when he gets back,” said Kiss.

“He’ll get in front of the vision and he’ll get to chat with the guys and will get in front of things really early (next week).

“Rather than being a glass half-empty it’s a glass half-full situation, because Joe (Schmidt) gets a chance to work with Ian Madigan in this case for this training session.

“So he can build that a little bit more, so there is a silver lining to it as well.

“The fact that Johnny’s not here, that’s just a reality and it’s an opportunity for Joe to work with Mads a bit more.”

Published: Wednesday 18th February 2015 by The News Editor

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