Eddie Jones insists England will be “psychologically vulnerable” against Ireland next weekend as they looked to “achieve greatness” in going for back-to-back Grand Slams.
England humbled Scotland at Twickenham to retain the Six Nations title, equalling New Zealand’s world record of 18 consecutive wins by a tier one nation in the process.
That means that when England travel to the Aviva Stadium next Saturday they will not only be playing for back-to-back Grand Slams, but also for a place in history.
Standing in their way is an Irish side fresh from a crushing defeat by Wales on Friday night, which gave England the opportunity to win the title with a game spare, but Jones believes nothing will motivate them more than spoiling the Red Rose’s party.
“It’s a completely different contest,” he said. “Ireland, psychologically, are in a very strong position.
“They’re beaten, they’re out of the tournament, they love spoiling parties. And the party they would love to spoil the most is the England party.
“They’ve got an enormous amount of psychological advantage. We’re vulnerable. We’ve won, we’re champions of the Six Nations and we’re in the most vulnerable state so we’re going to have to work very hard to get ourselves right for the game.”
England vs Scotland player ratings
The game takes place on St Patrick’s Day and when asked whether that will have an impact, Jones joked: “I don’t know, it depends if you drink Guinness or not.”
In beating Scotland, England achieved a back-to-back Six Nations win for the first time since 2001.
However, Jones challenged his players to become great by doing it again but with Grand Slams and admitted the players’ minds were already on next weekend.
“Not for me, but for the players it means they have achieved greatness,” Jones continued. “How many times in life to you get a chance to be great but that’s the opportunity they’ve got.
“It’s exciting. They’re in the dressing room now talking about it. They want to do it.”
Jonathan Joseph was the star of the show at HQ with a hat-trick of tries and a lovely assist for Anthony Watson as England tore through the Scottish defence, particularly in the first half.
Joseph was dropped for the Italy clash with Ben Te’o replacing him but Jones insisted the Bath centre was one of his key players and was only dropped so the squad could improve.
“He’s a good player, he’s always been a good player for us,” said the Australian.
“He’s one of our first-choice players but I need to find depth in our squad and that Italian game was an opportunity to find depth.”
He also revealed that an attitude shift was behind the step-up in performance.
“We’ve had two excellent weeks of preparation and it’s been an attitude shift in the team – and the attitude hasn’t been bad – but there’s been a real shift to embrace what’s ahead of us and lift us to the next level.
“I thought today, great credit to Scotland, they stuck in there with a lot of injuries and worked hard, we were good in the set-piece, our breakdown work was good, it’s a very strong jackaling team.
“And we executed some lovely plays – some of the space created for JJ (Joseph) today was outstanding and it was the work of George Ford and Owen Farrell on the inside.
“Scotland didn’t defend well but having to pass through 10 and 12 is tough. You need gas on the outside and power on the outside.”