Six Nations 2019: Ireland brush off England mind games after John Mitchell jibe

Simon Easterby insists Ireland have precious little interest in England’s verbal assaults ahead of their Guinness Six Nations opener in Dublin on Saturday.

England defence coach John Mitchell claimed Ireland will try “to bore the s*** out of us” at the Aviva Stadium this weekend.

Eddie Jones has accused Johnny Sexton of having “the bat phone to the referee”, to add to previous attempts to unsettle Ireland’s talismanic fly-half.

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Ireland forwards coach Easterby dismissed Mitchell’s comments as little more than attention grabbing, pledging that Joe Schmidt’s side will keep their cool and counsel.

“I think it’s a headline, I think if you look at the article and read a bit more about what he actually said, I don’t think it’s too much to read into,” said Easterby.


England Six Nations squad





1/36 Forwards: Jack Clifford

2/36 Dan Cole

3/36 Luke Cowan-Dickie

4/36 Tom Curry

5/36 Ben Earl

6/36 Ellis Genge

7/36 Jamie George

8/36 Nathan Hughes

9/36 Maro Itoje

10/36 George Kruis

11/36 Joe Launchbury

12/36 Courtney Lawes

13/36 Ben Moon

14/36 Brad Shields

15/36 Kyle Sinckler

16/36 Jack Singleton

17/36 Billy Vunipola

18/36 Mako Vunipola

19/36 Harry Williams

20/36 Mark Wilson

21/36 Backs: Chris Ashton

22/36 Mike Brown

23/36 Joe Cokanasiga

24/36 Elliot Daly

25/36 Ollie Devoto

26/36 Owen Farrell

27/36 George Ford

28/36 Jonathan Joseph

29/36 Jonny May

30/36 Jack Nowell

31/36 Dan Robson

32/36 Henry Slade

33/36 Ben Te’o

34/36 Ollie Thorley

35/36 Manu Tuilagi

36/36 Ben Youngs

1/36 Forwards: Jack Clifford

2/36 Dan Cole

3/36 Luke Cowan-Dickie

4/36 Tom Curry

5/36 Ben Earl

6/36 Ellis Genge

7/36 Jamie George

8/36 Nathan Hughes

9/36 Maro Itoje

10/36 George Kruis

11/36 Joe Launchbury

12/36 Courtney Lawes

13/36 Ben Moon

14/36 Brad Shields

15/36 Kyle Sinckler

16/36 Jack Singleton

17/36 Billy Vunipola

18/36 Mako Vunipola

19/36 Harry Williams

20/36 Mark Wilson

21/36 Backs: Chris Ashton

22/36 Mike Brown

23/36 Joe Cokanasiga

24/36 Elliot Daly

25/36 Ollie Devoto

26/36 Owen Farrell

27/36 George Ford

28/36 Jonathan Joseph

29/36 Jonny May

30/36 Jack Nowell

31/36 Dan Robson

32/36 Henry Slade

33/36 Ben Te’o

34/36 Ollie Thorley

35/36 Manu Tuilagi

36/36 Ben Youngs

“We focus on what we do. We’re good at what we do.

“There will always be an opinion about whatever team is playing. However a team plays, no matter how good they are, how poor they are, there’s always going to be an opinion.

“We’ll take that in our stride and look forward to creating a game at the weekend which we feel we’re capable of.”

Ireland’s full 38-man contingent trained unimpeded at their Carton House base outside Dublin on Tuesday.

Stalwart full-back Rob Kearney is ready to slot in after proving his fitness with Leinster, with prop Jack McGrath in a similar boat after last weekend.

Ireland head coach Schmidt has already insisted he enjoyed the verbal “grenades” favoured by England counterpart Jones.

And where in the past Ireland have been irked by the odd verbal volley, the defending Six Nations champions are determined not to be unsettled by any media jousting.

Jones was forced to apologise after claiming Sexton’s parents would be worried about a whiplash injury in 2016.

Then in November last year he suggested the Ireland outside-half receives more protection from officials than Owen Farrell.

A third pop at Sexton over influencing referees could have had Ireland frustrated, but instead Schmidt has sought to neutralise the effect of Jones’ barbs.

“Guys use motivation in whatever way they want individually, but for us, as a team and a squad, we don’t take too much interest in what is being said outside of that,” said Easterby.

“It is what it is. I think it’s a bit of a headline and we’re just focusing on how good we can become this weekend. Let’s see how the game goes.”

Former Ireland scrum-half Peter Stringer has tipped Schmidt’s men to antagonise “hothead” Farrell on Saturday.

“Owen Farrell, he’s in charge of everything they do, being captain and having all that responsibility, but he is a hothead,” said Stringer, speaking at a sponsor’s event in Ireland.

“I’ve played with him, he loves that physical side of things, but you can get under his skin, you can rattle him. He is a guy they’ll be looking to get after.

“If things go well for Farrell, on the front foot he’s a great player, but going backward he’s a guy who loses the rag completely, which you don’t want from your captain.”

PA

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