Eddie Jones predicts England’s Six Nations title showdown with Ireland will be a classic as a host of players are vying to prove they are Europe’s top dogs.
The rivals meet at Twickenham on Sunday, with Jones’ World Cup finalists desperate to claim the win that will keep them in title contention and Andy Farrell’s men equally determined to continue their Grand Slam march.
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The contest is littered with collisions between British and Lions team-mates driven to demonstrate they are the continent’s finest in their position, not least between captains and playmakers Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton.
“Ireland have a number of players who espouse to be number one in Europe,” Jones said. “And we have a number of guys in our team who espouse to be number one in Europe. I think that means it will be a titanic clash.”
Two personnel who will be hoping to lay down an early marker for the 2021 Lions tour are locks Maro Itoje and James Ryan, who could be packing down together in South Africa in 18 months’ time.
“They are both massive work-rate players. Ryan has an incredible work rate, as does Maro. And they are both destructive,” Jones said.
“That head-to-head clash is pretty interesting because they set the intensity for their teams to a large degree. Maro definitely does for us.”
Along with several of his team-mates, Itoje has yet to hit full throttle in the 2020 Six Nations but Jones insists he is about to rediscover the type of form that made him a force at the World Cup.
“Maro’s getting back to his best. He will definitely be at his best on Sunday. We have seen each week that he has progressed,” Jones said.
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