Ireland the 'most cohesive side in the world'
SPOTLIGHT: England boss Eddie Jones says Ireland are “the most cohesive side in the world”, installing Andy Farrell’s men as favourites for Saturday’s Six Nations showdown at Twickenham.
Jones attempted to heap the pressure onto his opponents, suggesting that their more seamless preparation time helps them in the November and Six Nations Test windows.
But the Australian warned those advantages would disappear at the 2023 World Cup in France, with all teams having standardised access to their players in the build-up.
Ireland are second in the Six Nations table after two wins in three matches, three points behind unbeaten France. England are third, one point behind Farrell’s men.
“It’s an important week in the tournament [Six Nations],” Jones said on Monday. “There are three teams left in the tournament and we’re lucky enough to be one of those three.
“Ireland are favourites for the game. They’ve been in very good form in the autumn [November], they’re a very settled team, and very well coached by Andy Farrell.”
He added: “They are literally, and I say this without any hesitation, the most cohesive side in the world.
“The bulk of their team train together for the bulk of the year so they are very well-coordinated in their attack, they are very structured, they’re very sequenced in set plays. And they’re tough around the breakdown.”
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Ireland’s provincial system helps the Test side, giving opportunities for players to shift between domestic and international camps whereas England’s club set-up is not so well-integrated.
But Jones, whose side were beaten by South Africa in the final of the 2019 World Cup in Japan, said next year’s tournament in France would be a great leveller.
“The three months before the World Cup is where every team becomes equal,” he said.
“We all have the same amount of time to practise, we all have the players the same amount of time. Up to now, teams have got their players for differing times, there’s different experiences.
“We can only have 25 players until Tuesday, other teams can have 42 until Thursday. So it’s all different. But once you get to the World Cup campaign start, it’s all equal.”