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Six Nations 2024: “England at Twickenham is always a big test for Ireland”

Six Nations 2024: “England at Twickenham is always a big test for Ireland”

Guinness Six Nations: England v Ireland

place: Twickenham Stadium, London date: Saturday 9 March Starting: 16:45 GMT

coverage: Listen to BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds and BBC Radio Ulster; Live text updates, reporting, reactions and highlights on the BBC Sport website and app

Playing for England in the Six Nations last year is something I will never forget. The entire week was amazing and the stars aligned for us as we won a grand slam at home on the St. Patrick's weekend.

For us Irish players, it was a dream, but on that day, we didn't play our best rugby.

It was a really close game, although England played most of it with 14 men after Freddie Steward's red card.

I'm sure the Irish fans were nervous all afternoon until the final whistle.

We've certainly had the upper hand over England in recent years in terms of results, but it's still England and Twickenham.

When you travel to Twickenham, it doesn't matter what shape England is in. Most of the time, they are able to put on great performances in front of their home fans.

There is a certain aura to Twickenham. It's this huge cauldron and it's a great place to play rugby. Winning there feels great, but it definitely doesn't come easy.

The bus ride is always interesting as the fans welcome you when you arrive. It creates a real buzz and helps you get into game mode nice and early.

If England are ahead, Twickenham could be difficult enough for the visiting teams, but that is something Ireland can control.

The players will have discussed the importance of a good start and silencing the crowd early. They know what is at stake and know the importance of not letting England build momentum.

“Performance at the highest level is required”

Against Wales, we started really well and led 17-0 at half-time. To be fair to Wales, they came out strong in the second half and picked up a bit of momentum.

I think a lot of teams would have let Wales back into the game under that pressure, so to overcome that and win by 24 points was a sign of how confident Ireland are at the moment and the players we have.

But as previously noted, Ireland must keep the penalty count down. Cailan Doris spoke of calling off the “ridiculous penalties” seen in the second half against Wales and he is right. This is something that will be addressed in the preparatory period this week.

We pride ourselves on our discipline and not making simple mistakes, and the players will want to improve those aspects of the game at Twickenham.

England have had a difficult enough start in the Six Nations. There has been a lot of talk about them trying to change the way they play and adopt a more attacking approach.

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, Rob Herring came off the bench to score a try and help Ireland win a grand slam against England last year

But there will be a game when you click on it.

That's why this will be a big test for Ireland. With their backs against the wall and Twickenham roaring behind them, England have enough quality in their squad to cause any team real problems, which is why there will only be a big performance for 80 minutes of our game.

England clearly have a good squad of players and a strong bench. It's effective when you're out and about, too. Jimmy George throws to Maro Itoje, this is a combination that has been tried and tested for years now.

On top of that, they have a really dynamic back row with big breakout threats in Ben Earl. He's an incredibly strong guy, does a lot of unseen work and brings a lot of energy to their team.

This is part of what Ireland will have to control. Trying to prevent those moments when Earl and the England players can celebrate and build momentum.

Ireland have been fantastic in finishing this tournament and continuing that will be key. That's part of their game and what gives England energy.

But Ireland will focus on executing their plan to achieve another positive result, perhaps winning the title and setting up another Grand Slam opportunity against Scotland.

Rob Herring was speaking to BBC Sport's Matt Gault

video caption, Six Nations 2024: BBC Rugby answers Oscar's quick questions