Gerry Thornley on a rejuvenated Ireland, Tiger Roll’s Aintree weight to be revealed
The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
England women beat Scotland women at Murrayfield on Monday. Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho
Ireland head to Twickenham on Sunday February 23rd with a spring in their step, following last weekend’s 24-14 win over Wales in Dublin. And in his column this morning, Gerry Thornley has suggested two straight Six Nations victories have gone a long way towards helping banish the demons of 2019 - particularly with the Grand Slam champions comprehensively beaten at the Aviva Stadium. He writes: “It wasn’t just the win, it was the manner of it. Despite the events of 2019, Ireland played with a freedom, ambition and confidence which never wavered, and that was an achievement in itself . . . there was a heightened willingness to probe for space out wide and to offload, with the backs actually having more carries than the forwards. Players such as CJ Stander and Robbie Henshaw looked almost re-invented.” If Ireland can beat England at Twickenham it would see them win the Triple Crown and leave them in the driving seat to claim the title, with the visit of Italy and a trip to Paris to follow. And Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster believes Andy Farrell’s side are capable of upsetting the odds in London: “I think Ireland can win, I do think that, because of the quality of players they’ve got,” he said.
Meanwhile Andrew Conway, who was one of Ireland’s standout players during the win over Wales, has urged for calm heads and a bit of perspective before the trip to play Eddie Jones’s men: “We are probably going to be the best team in the world for a week or two until we play England, and the outcome of that will decide what’s written about us after that. It’s trying to remain somewhere in the middle and realise we are on the right path, a good path, got new guys in, and we have to keep looking forward and work hard.” Farrell has released 13 players back to their provinces ahead of the return of the Pro14 at the weekend, retaining a 23-man squad for a two-day training camp in Cork.