With Ireland set to welcome England to the Aviva in Dublin this weekend we take a look at five areas of concern for Joe Schmidt’s side…
1.Lack of tries
So far in the 2015 Six Nations Ireland have just two tries in two games, both of which came in the closing stages of their victory over Italy on the opening weekend. Although there’s no need to panic at this stage, the lack of tries will be a concern for Irish fans. It’s unlikely Ireland will be able to claim victory over England without scoring tries so they need to come from somewhere and fast.
2.The Bath connection
Bath trio Jonathan Joseph, George Ford and Anthony Watson have been central to much of England’s early success in the 2015 Six Nations. Whilst Ireland have the players to deal with the trio, they will be the biggest concern for Schmidt’s men. Nulify these three, and in particular Ford and they will find England much easier to keep out in Dublin.
Whilst many of Ireland’s key players are finally returning from injury, there will be a few lingering concerns. Whilst Johnny Sexton was impressive from the boot against France, he still lacked a little match sharpness in open play. The injury to Heaslip is also a big blow whilst Schmidt will be hoping the likes of O’Brien and Healy are firing from the word go.
4.Tight five concerns
Ireland’s last game against France may have raised some concerns for the coaching staff as the scrum struggled for parity on several occasions. Concerns have since been raised over the performances of Devin Toner and Mike Ross and could lead to one or two changes in a bid to bolster the Irish set piece.
As reigning champions the pressure will be on Ireland rather than England to get the victory, especially given they are playing in Dublin. Fortunately Ireland have shown themselves more than capable of dealing with high pressure situations of late, however the absence of some key leaders on the pitch could be of concern.
How do you think Ireland will get on against England?