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18th Feb 2016

Eddie Jones’ comments on the Irish team will not go down well with Joe Schmidt

Battle lines

Patrick McCarry

Another leading coach alluding to Ireland kicking the leather off the ball. Joe Schmidt will love this.

Eddie Jones has paid tribute to Ireland’s recent rugby success but has pin-pointed two areas where he feels Ireland concentrate their efforts – phase play and high balls.

The England coach will face off against Schmidt’s Ireland on February 27, in Twickenham, and believes it will be his side’s biggest challenge yet.

“Look,” he told reporters, “we haven’t played anyone yet. We haven’t done anything yet this season, let’s be honest about it. The tests are to come.

“I want to be respectful, but we were playing Italy on Sunday. When we’re playing the 13th- or 14th-ranked team in the world, we should be able to give them a hiding.

“We didn’t quite manage that but we won the game convincingly and now we’ve got to be better than that.” Jones added:

“We’re playing against Ireland on Saturday week and they’re the benchmark of European rugby. It’s a step up because we’re going from one tier to the other.

“That’s the reality – Ireland are in the top tier of European rugby.”

Asked how his English players were preparing to face Ireland, he joked that they would be practicing with ‘raw eggs and soft hands’ in training. He also remarked that he would fly in Aussie Rules side Hawthorn as they closely resemble Ireland. He declared:

“Ireland kick 60% of their possession. If we can win that Aussie Rules battle, we will go a long way to winning the game.

“Ireland are a clever side and one of the best-coached sides in the world. They’ve decided to go that route, it works for them. Far be it from me to criticise it.”

Far be it indeed.

First Warren Gatland, now Eddie Jones. Ireland have been called out.

Let us see how Schmidt responds.

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