Rugby

Paul O'Connell Believes England Will Beat Ireland This Weekend

Paul O'Connell Believes England Will Beat Ireland This Weekend

Paul O'Connell believes that England will beat Ireland when the two sides meet in the Six Nations on Sunday.

Ireland head into the match unbeaten after wins against Scotland and Wales. England lost their opening match to France and then defeated Scotland at Murrayfield.

"England's win against Scotland was similar to Ireland's win against Scotland," O'Connell told Brian Moore's Full Contact podcast.

"When you play in those conditions, it's made for an upset, particularly away from home.

"I thought England's performance, to dog it out, and just get the result... It's one of the things that I enjoy about working with BBC: You speak to some of the older guys and they're first and foremost focused on how you go about winning the rugby match.

"I think some of the younger crew - I'm including myself - there's so much talk about performance. The main statistic is the scoreboard and for me, England winning that game when it was ripe for an upset was a big moment for them.

"I thought they should have beaten France when we look back on it. We were impressed with France and their defence. When you looked at the game again, England had a multitude of opportunities to win that game.

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"England are probably in a very good place heading into this game. They've built a defensive mindset with Eddie and the media, with Ellis Genge in the media after the game.

"Heading back to Twickenham, the possibility of better weather, I think England are ripe for a very good performance.

"I think Ireland are going to play really well but I fancy England, particularly at home. England won't have forgotten their performance in the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand. I was at that game and I thought England were operating on a different level. I don't see any reason why they can't get back to that level.

"Certainly, Billy Vunipola, when he's playing, is world class. He can generate quick ball when it looks like there's absolutely no hope of generating quick ball. Ireland probably don't have as many players like that.

"I'd fancy England and I'd go England by seven points."

O'Connell does like what he has seen so far from Ireland under Andy Farrell.

"I think they're looking to hang on to the good things from the Joe Schmidt era around the ruck, the exit set piece," he said.

"Then they're probably trying to add one or two wrinkles. You'll probably see the forwards passing a little bit more and maybe a bit more offloading.

"There's no fear of them being over-confident going to England. They've taken two heavy beatings from them the last two times they've played there [at Twickenham]. They are probably realistic about where they are. They're in a far better place than when they last played England in the Aviva Stadium."

Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

See Also: John Hodnett Scores Stunning Try In MOTM Performance In Munster Debut

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