FILE - England defence coach John Mitchell during a press conference. Photo: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters
FILE - England defence coach John Mitchell during a press conference. Photo: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

England must forget about winning run against Ireland, says John Mitchell

By AFP Time of article published Mar 19, 2021

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LONDON – England defence coach John Mitchell has urged the team to ignore their four-Test winning run against Ireland and prepare instead for a ferocious Six Nations clash in Dublin on Saturday.

This weekend's fixture at Lansdowne Road marks the final outing in the tournament for both sides.

Champions England will be looking to finish with a flourish after a 23-20 win over France revived a campaign that has included defeats against Scotland and Wales.

England last lost to Ireland in 2018, when the Irish completed a Grand Slam.

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Since then they have had the better of physical exchanges up front against an Ireland side now coached by Andy Farrell, the father of England captain Owen.

But Mitchell said past results were no guide to what might happen in their latest encounter.

"You never have Ireland's number," he said on Friday. "They're a tenacious side and a tenacious country."

The former New Zealand head coach added: "They fight bloody hard for each other. They'll rip in, there's no doubt about that. But we're ready for all that.

"They'll see the breakdown as an opportunity against us. It's going to be a war at the breakdown, which is something we're ready for.

"It comes down to being able to get on to the front foot and being able to implant how we want to play the game. We have to get on to the front foot and stop their momentum."

Ireland, like England, are looking to finish the Six Nations in credit after wins over Italy and Scotland were balanced out by losses to Wales and France.

Much will hinge on the performance of Ireland captain Johnny Sexton, with England's recent successes against the Irish notable for how they have negated the threat posed by the veteran fly-half.

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But even though Sexton turns 36 in July, Mitchell was in no doubt about the Ireland great's enduring quality.

"Johnny is still a huge fulcrum in how he organises and drives them," he said. "You have to admire his competitiveness and drive.

"But definitely there are others being used as distributors from first phase.

"That allows Johnny to be involved in secondary attack and take away the ability to create inside pressure on him. He's evolving his game subtlety to suit the needs of his team."

AFP

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