Saturday 16

Rugby Union

Schmidt expecting physical England in opener

26th January 2019, 17:23 by James Mason

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt believes England will be looking to physically dominate his side when they do battle on February 2.

Reigning Six Nations champions Ireland kick off their defence in Dublin against England a week on Saturday and the result could have a huge bearing on the overall outcome of the tournament.

These two teams have dominated this event over the past five years, with Warren Gatland's Wales the last nation to wrest the trophy away from the Irish and English in 2013.

Schmidt, who will retire from coaching after the 2019 World Cup, believes Eddie Jones' men will be adopting a physical approach and the New Zealander is confident his players can handle what comes their way.

Speaking at the Guinness Six Nations Launch, the Irish head coach said: "We have to be well prepared for the inevitable physical nature of the contest. I think England are going to be very physical, and they have the firepower to do so with the likes of (Billy) Vunipola, (Nathan) Hughes and (Ben) Te'o.

"We need to be ready for the many different ways they can play, but I think above all we need to be ready for their brutality. We will look at what we think is the best way to try and approach the game and we will pick our team based on who we think will be most effective against England’s gameplan.

"We will keep trying different combinations and as long as no-one is spying, people won't realise and hopefully we'll get the right one to combat England."

This article originated on sportinastorm.com

James Mason grew up in Northumberland so is entrenched in both the football and golf scenes. A low handicap golfer, he also follows Newcastle United and predicts big things under Rafa Benitez.

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