EXCLUSIVE: "Scarily good" Ireland have set the benchmark but nerves could play their part
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England's task on Saturday in the final round of the Six Nations is unquestionable already, and Danny Care has explained how 'scarily good' Ireland are.
If losing 53-10 at home to the second ranked team in the world wasn't tough enough for Steve Borthwick's side, the final round of the tournament is yet more difficult for the new England head coach.
On Saturday, the former Leicester Tigers boss takes his team to the Aviva Stadium to face the world number one side, who are on the verge of winning the Six Nations and the Grand Slam.
If Andy Farrell's side do win it'll be the first time that Ireland have ended a Slam at home, having done it in Wales in 2009 and England in 2018.
Speaking exclusively to SPORTbible, Care revealed he believes that Farrell's side have set the 'benchmark' for how the game should be played.
"I think that they're scarily good," the Harlequins number nine said.
"I think they've showed glimpses, obviously the performance against France, which I think was one of the best games I've ever watched. was amazing.
"France were slightly off it that day, but Ireland have been exceptional, they've set the benchmark over the past year or so.
"The speed that they play at, the way they shift the ball, the interchanges between forwards and back. No team in the world is doing it as well as Ireland at the moment.
"The seamless transition of whoever plays, it doesn't matter, they just fit into that system.
"Andy Farrell's got them working incredibly hard. He's got them playing incredibly organised game plan that everyone understands their role. And they just go out and execute it all the time."
Care was part of the England side who won the 'Slam' under Eddie Jones in 2016, and who missed out on a second one on the last weekend of the tournament to Ireland the following year, and the 36-year-old believes nerves could play a factor, but won't ultimately make a difference.
"It'll be different this weekend, because there is going to be that pressure on them, you can't hide away from that," the scrum half added.
"They are going to be thinking of what it's going to be like.
"So it might be a bit cagey and a bit tight to start with. But I think if they if they get themselves going, and, barring anything crazy happening, I do feel like Ireland will will get the victory."
The fact that the game to win it falls against their most hated rivals, England, and on St Patrick's Day only makes the possibility of the 'Slam' even more special.
"For those Irish players, it literally it's why you pick the ball up when you were a little boy, for dream moments to lift the Six Nations and to win a slam and against England. You couldn't have scripted it really," Care said.
With just months to go until the World Cup, Care doesn't believe that Ireland are peaking too early, as they've been accused of in the past.
One problem for them to go all the way and become world champions is the draw. They face Scotland and South Africa in their group, no easy task to get through, and then either hosts France or New Zealand in the quarters.
It's all down to the fact the draw took place in 2020, when Ireland and France were ranked fifth and seventh in the world, respectively, whilst England and Wales were third and fourth.
Care agreed that the decision to do the draw so early, leaving all the world's best teams on one side of it, was a bad one.
"It's mad. Like the words you said, exactly right, it's ludicrous that they do it that early," the former Leeds player said.
"The reality of it is, some of your best teams are gonna go out very early in a World Cup, which is not what anybody wants to see, you want to see the best teams get into the final.
"It is mad that this draw's done that far in advance. I can't imagine that's ever going to happen again. Because the amount of stick it's got."
At least he sees one positive, adding, "On the flip side, for England, it's the best thing that's ever happened. Because you're going to be knocking out a lot of good teams.
"So I'm sure that's what Steve Borthwick will be saying to his lads, 'Look if we can get things right, come the World Cup, you can easily find yourself in a semi final and then it's a game of rugby, it's 80 minutes.'
"Then he's just got to win two games to win a World Cup."
First up just the task of getting over that drubbing to France to stop the Irish, simple as...
Grab tickets here and join Danny Care this Saturday 18th March, for the ultimate screening of the Rugby Championship at the Guinness Six Nations Super Saturday Fan Festival at HERE at Outernet.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
Topics: Rugby, Rugby Union, England, Ireland, Spotlight