'Praise can make you weak' – Jones says Ireland must cope with pressure of being best in world


Relive some magic moments from last year’s Six Nations
Six Nations: Ireland v England
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 2 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live and Radio Ulster, plus text commentary & highlights on the BBC Sport website and app.

Eddie Jones says Ireland must cope with the pressure of being the best team in the world when his England side take on the Six Nations champions on Saturday.

Grand Slam champions Ireland are ranked second in the world, two places higher than their visitors, and beat world champions New Zealand in November.

“Everyone is writing them up and they have got to carry that expectation round,” said head coach Jones.

“We’re excited about playing there. Praise can make you weak.”

England have lost six of their past seven Six Nations matches in Dublin, with a 12-6 victory in 2013 their most recent success.

“You want to play the best in the world away from home and Ireland are the best at the moment,” he added.

“I never use the status of being underdogs, it’s never been one of the tricks of the trade because we never think we’re not better than the opposition.”

Jones’ comments are the latest in a exchange of words between the two sides, after his Ireland counterpart Joe Schmidt laughed off comments saying his side were boring.

Ireland outplayed England 11 months ago to seal the Grand Slam and while Ireland are odds-on favourites for a fourth title in six years, England are rebuilding after a run of five successive losses last year.

They head to Dublin having lost to Ireland 24-15 last season and subsequently finished fifth – their worst showing for 31 years.

Team news

Robbie Henshaw will switch from his usual midfield role to play at full-back for the first time since his Ireland debut in 2013.

He returns after missing the autumn internationals, as does scrum-half Conor Murray.

England centre Manu Tuilagi will make his first Six Nations start for six years, profiting from Ben Te’o’s side strain.

Fit-again brothers Mako and Billy Vunipola will play for England for the first time since June, while Tom Curry and Mark Wilson are poised for Six Nations debuts.


Ireland: 15-Robbie Henshaw, 14-Keith Earls, 13-Garry Ringrose, 12-Bundee Aki, 11-Jacob Stockdale, 10-Jonathan Sexton, 9-Conor Murray; 1-Cian Healy, 2-Rory Best (captain), 3-Tadhg Furlong, 4-Devin Toner, 5-James Ryan, 6-Peter O’Mahony, 7-Josh van der Flier, 8-CJ Stander

Replacements: 16-Sean Cronin, 17-Dave Kilcoyne, 18-Andrew Porter, 19-Quinn Roux, 20-Sean O’Brien, 21-John Cooney, 22-Joey Carbery, 23-Jordan Larmour

England: 15-Elliot Daly, 14-Jonny May, 13-Henry Slade, 12-Manu Tuilagi, 11-Jack Nowell, 10-Owen Farrell (captain), 9-Ben Youngs; 1-Mako Vunipola, 2-Jamie George, 3-Kyle Sinckler, 4-Maro Itoje, 5-George Kruis, 6-Mark Wilson, 7-Tom Curry, 8-Billy Vunipola

Replacements: 16-Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17-Ellis Genge, 18-Harry Williams, 19-Courtney Lawes, 20-Nathan Hughes, 21-Dan Robson, 22-George Ford, 23-Chris Ashton

View from both camps

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt: “I think it’s going to be exhilarating, I think it’s going to be edge of the seat because I don’t think there’s a huge amount between the teams.

“I do think people are going to be entertained. And one of the great things about the Aviva Stadium is the entertainment is partially provided by those outside the pitch supporting the team in the manner that they do.

“We know we’re going to have a big crowd and that they are going to be incredibly supportive.”

England head coach Eddie Jones: “It is well documented no-one thinks we can win but I can tell you everyone inside our camp believes we can win.

“Traditionally, England and Ireland games are always very close, they are tough affairs, there is a lot of emotion in the games so our ability to finish the game strongly is going to be vital.”

Six Nations: Things you didn’t know about the Six Nations

Match facts


  • Ireland are vying for a third straight win over England, having lost six of the previous seven meetings.
  • England have lost on six of their past seven Six Nations visits to Dublin, never scoring more than 13 points in a game. Their only victory since 2003 was by 12-6 in 2013.


  • Ireland are on a national record run of 12 successive home wins. Their most recent defeat at the Aviva Stadium came against New Zealand in November 2016.
  • Joe Schmidt’s side have 18 victories from their past 19 matches, losing only to Australia last June.
  • Ireland are unbeaten in 14 Six Nations games in Dublin since a February 2013 loss against England (W12, D2).
  • They trailed for a total of just 39 minutes across their four autumn Tests, conceding a mere six points in the second half of those matches.


  • Eddie Jones’ side lost half of their 12 matches in 2018. England have only lost more games in a calendar year on three occasions: eight defeats in both 2006 & 2007, and seven losses in 2008.
  • Their 50% win ratio in 2018 is the joint-third lowest by an England side to have played at least 10 matches in a calendar year.
  • England have only lost three of 19 opening day fixtures in the Six Nations: versus France in 2014 and Wales in 2005 and 2008.

Match officials

Referee: Jerome Garces (France)

Touch judges: Romain Poite & Alexandre Ruiz (both France)

TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

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