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Ireland look to avoid 'naive' mistake in business end of Six Nations

SPOTLIGHT: Josh van der Flier said on Wednesday it would be “naive” of Ireland to talk about a Grand Slam ahead of their Six Nations clash against a resurgent Scotland in Edinburgh.

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Ireland are the only team left who can complete the clean sweep going into the final two rounds of the tournament following bonus-point wins over Wales, France and Italy.

Scotland’s own dreams of a Slam were ended by France, the reigning Six Nations champions, last time out.

But victory over Ireland at Murrayfield on Sunday would revive Scotland’s title hopes and give them a first Triple Crown since the 1990 Five Nations.

“It’s probably something we would have mentioned at the start of the tournament, so I wouldn’t say it was a banned word, no,” loose forward Van der Flier told reporters of Ireland’s hopes of a first Slam since 2018 and fourth in total.

“But with the threat we have this weekend with a Scotland side that are playing so well, it would be probably naive of us to start talking about a Grand Slam or anything like that.

“I think it’s going to be a massive challenge against a really, really good side.”

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Finn Russell has been the key playmaker in a dynamic Scotland attack and Van der Flier is well aware of the flyhalf’s talent.

“He’s one of those players that you give a bit of space to and he’s good enough to capitalise, as we’ve seen the last few weeks,” added the reigning world player of the year.

Ireland coach Andy Farrell is set to name his team on Friday, with captain Johnny Sexton and star centre Garry Ringrose back in contention after missing the 34-20 win over Italy in Rome through injuries.

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