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Thursday Feb 25, 2016

'England are favourites to beat Ireland and win the Six Nations' says Flatman

'England are favourites to beat Ireland and win the Six Nations' says Flatman
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England are favourites to win against Ireland and win the Six Nations too, says David Flatman. The two sides meet this weekend at Twickenham, so former England prop Flatman shared his thoughts on where the game will be won, and by whom.

England, the only northern hemisphere side to win the Rugby World Cup, has not lifted the Six Nations trophy since 2011 and it was way back in 2003 that they claimed the Grand Slam.

Despite this barren run, ITV pundit and former Bath prop Flatman believes Eddie Jones’ side can end their Six Nations hoodoo and not only beat the Irish but win the tournament too.

“There is absolutely no reason why England shouldn’t win the tournament or the grand slam, there really isn’t – they are certainly good enough to do just that,” said Flatman.

“I think Wales are their biggest threat but an issue for the Welsh is that they have struggled and been put under a lot of pressure in the scrum in recent years.”

As for the Ireland clash, he feels that the breakdown is where the game will be won and lost.

Ireland are yet to register a win this campaign, but will be England’s toughest test to date.

The Irish are formidable on the floor and Flatman believes England – who struggled against Italy, a side not renowned as fierce exponents of breakdown work – must improve if they want to maintain their 100% record.

“The breakdown is the key area. It is so important that we are strong here because at the moment the breakdown certainly needs work. If we can compete I am confident we will win.

“I think England’s backrow looks balanced. There is a huge amount of work going with two defensive grafters which allows Billy Vunipola all the opportunity to carry ball which is exactly what he and England want. But I don’t see anywhere where either side will dominate.”

The ITV pundit said the likelihood of an Irish victory took a huge a huge blow with the news that flanker Sean O’Brien will miss the crunch clash at Twickenham.

“It is a massive, massive blow for Ireland to lose Sean O’Brien,” he said. “He is one of the few guys in world rugby that is a defensive nightmare to play against and a ball carrying nightmare too, he is that good. It is a huge loss and one that helps England’s cause greatly.

“We have to be favourites really. When you are without a now retired Paul O’Connell, Sean O’Brien out injured, Ian Henderson, Tommy Bowe, Cian Healy, Mike Ross – these are big big names.

“England do need to sort out our lineouts but with Steve Borthwick, I think that is fixable but with the wingspan of Devin Toner, it will make it difficult.”

England have won five of their last six contests against the Irish.

Richard Mills

Twickenham, 16:50pm, Saturday 27 February

England: Mike Brown (Harlequins), Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph (both Bath), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Jack Nowell (Exeter), George Ford (Bath), Ben Youngs (Leicester); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Dylan Hartley (Northampton – captain), Dan Cole (Leicester), Maro Itoje, George Kruis (both Saracens), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), James Haskell (Wasps), Billy Vunipola (Saracens).
Replacements: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Alex Goode (all Saracens), Paul Hill, Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Jack Clifford, Danny Care (Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Wasps).

Ireland: Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble, Robbie Henshaw, Stuart McCloskey, Keith Earls, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Donnacha Ryan, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Cian Healy, Nathan White, Ultan Dillane,  Rhys Ruddock, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Simon Zebo.

15 Comments

  • stroudos
    5:02 PM 02/03/2016

    Hey Katman! Between the two of us, we predicted quite well! I got the winning team and almost nailed the points difference; you got the bit about Poite sinbinning England players during the second half and England finishing with 14 men. Well done us. :)

    Reply
  • stroudos
    4:59 PM 02/03/2016

    Does anyone know how I go about reporting that "Slimani" pun? I don't even know who to complain to, but there must be some kind of authority that deals with this kind of thing, isn't there?

    Reply
  • drg
    12:31 PM 28/02/2016

    Could be good, for me it depends on what French team turns up - and also what referee turns up! I thought the French were VERY hard done by against the Welsh, how many failed scrums, failed mauls because of Welsh foul play, how many penalties in the red zone with no card?!?!?

    Reply
  • oliver
    9:25 AM 28/02/2016

    oh don't get me started about Trin Duc!! his not being used was the number 1 gripe among French fans during the PSA years.... so we seem to agree for once ha! I don't expect France to rebuild themselves overnight, but I'm pretty hopeful for the future. Le Crunch in Paris should be a cracker this year...

    Reply
  • drg
    10:18 PM 26/02/2016

    What frustrates me with the French team Oliver, is that they have a huge amount of under 25 players coming in which; like French wine, we would hope will improve with age, but they're still trying out players like Trinh-Duc who is reaching his twilight years - 29 is indeed no age, but it's so frustrating to see him being included NOW. Why was he not selected before in the countless other French matches. I think Frances chance THIS 6N are slim(ani) - I felt that before their loss to Wales tonight. However if they try and stick with a growing team and build them up, then I think there is a lot of danger for the future.

    Reply
  • oliver
    3:38 PM 26/02/2016

    Well the discussion is also about favorites to win the 6 N, non? Also by highlighting the youth, I was pointing out how much the French team has changed since the WC. Which seems to totally escape UK commentators. It has changed much more than the English team actually. Finally, England so far only beat Scotland and Italy, the weakest links. So I really don't see why they should be big favorites...

    Reply
  • katman
    1:46 PM 26/02/2016

    Poite fair? Try telling that to Bismarck du Plessis. http://www.rugbydump.com/2013/09/3385/bismarck-du-plessis-controversially-yellow-carded-for-huge-hit-on-dan-carter

    Reply
  • oliver
    10:40 AM 26/02/2016

    I love how underestimated the French team is right now. Not even mentioned in this discussion. The fact is, only 6 of our 23 players fielded tonight were there for the last FRance Wales at Cardiff, in 2014. I think more than half of les Bleus are under 25 right now. I guess that's a big difference with small countries like Ireland and Wales, the talent pool is so much bigger in France. Anyways it seems to me the 6 Nations is fairly open, England, Wales and France have equal chances I think. ALLEZ LES BLEUS!!

    Reply
  • stroudos
    9:46 AM 26/02/2016

    I'll admit I am slightly nervous about Monsieur Poite, as he's reffed England scrums very harshly in the past. (Incorrectly in my humble opinion, but I probably know even less about scrums than he does). Generally speaking, I think he's a fair ref though; he punishes idiocy quite severely and I am fine with that.

    Reply
  • katman
    9:57 PM 25/02/2016

    To that I tip my hatman. But you're wrong about Flatman. I wouldn't trust thatman. He's no katman. Ireland by 7 points. England to finish with 14 men. Poite to lose his patience somewhere in the second half.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    9:17 PM 25/02/2016

    "Katman's wrong about Flatman", says The Latman* who's not a fat man. I reckon England will win by 5-10 pts. * a new nickname I just made up for myself, but admittedly it's wishful thinking.

    Reply
  • clearly
    8:47 PM 25/02/2016

    Clearly in touch with what's going on with Ireland as both Healy (bench) and Ross (starting) are included this weekend. I think that he's also wrong about where the game will be won and lost. It's more likely to be in the scrum. Poite is an idiosyncratic referee at the best of times but he typically rewards what he perceives to be the dominant scrum. A better scrum would have seen Ireland win both of their opening games. Healy is nothing like the player that he used to be and Ross usually needs a few games to get back to match fitness so while it's great for Ireland to see them involved again it'll be a minor miracle if they are up to speed.

    Reply
  • katman
    7:08 PM 25/02/2016

    "Flatman's wrong" says katman.

    Reply
  • drg
    6:57 PM 25/02/2016

    To be honest, I didn't think Ireland deserved the draw against Wales.. Towards the end of the game I was watching it with a very tense feeling of "oh no, Wales is going to win this any second now" and it wasn't the typical feeling when you have a close game. They also lost to a shaky French team and I have no idea how. Ireland have the talent - and a few injuries, but somehow they're not gelling quite as well as they should be.

    Reply
  • nineball
    5:58 PM 25/02/2016

    I suspect that England have already won both the games they're going to this tournament.

    Reply


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