Eddie Jones has branded Ireland “the most cohesive side in the world” in installing Andy Farrell’s men as favourites for Saturday’s Six Nations showdown at Twickenham.
England boss Jones attempted to heap the pressure onto Ireland, hinting that their more seamless preparation time carries weight in the autumn and Six Nations Test windows.
But wily Australian coach Jones also warned that those advantages will disappear at the 2023 World Cup in France, with all sides having standardised access to their players in that build-up.
“It’s an important week in the tournament, there are three teams left in the tournament and we’re lucky enough to be one of those three,” said Jones.
“Ireland are favourites for the game, they’ve been in very good form in the autumn, they’re a very settled team, and very well-coached by Andy Farrell.
“And apart from Andrew Porter I think they’ve got everybody available and ready to go.
“They are literally, and I say this without any hesitation, the most cohesive side in the world.
“The bulk of their team train together for the bulk of the year.
“So they are very well-coordinated in their attack, they are very structured, they’re very sequenced in set plays. And they’re tough around the breakdown.
“So that poses a great challenge for us. But we’re looking forward to the challenge, we’re not intimidated by any team and we’re looking forward to playing against them.”
Ireland’s much-heralded provincial system boosts the Test side through seamless opportunity for players to shift between domestic and international camps.
England’s club and country system, while far more joined-up than in times past, still harbours sticking points among the interaction.
And while noting the differences in set-up, England boss Jones insisted any advantages now will evaporate at next year’s World Cup.
“We’re in a very good position mate, we’ve got a little over 12 months until we get together for the last part of the project,” said Jones.
“The three months before the World Cup is where every team becomes equal.
“We all have the same amount of time to practice, we all have the players the same amount of time.
“Up to now, teams have got their players for differing times, there’s different experiences.
“We can only have 25 players until Tuesday, other teams can have 42 until Thursday. So it’s all different.
But once you get to the World Cup campaign start, it’s all equal.
“So how are we tracking now? Yeah, in a really positive manner mate.
“It’s not a perfect straight line, sometimes we’re going a bit quicker than others. And sometimes we’d like to go a bit quicker.
“But we’ve got great spirit in the side.
“Just look at the spine of the team, our 9, 10 and 15 we played against Wales.
“And they’ve got 12 times, 12 times the amount of caps we’ve got; 12 times.
“So what a fantastic experience for those young blokes, and to edge out a win against the Six Nations side is a real testament to where they are going.
“How much better are they going to be in 12 months with another 10 caps under their belt?
“The game is evolving, and we feel like we’re in a really good position to take any opportunities there are to evolve our game in that position.
“And Marcus Smith, Harry Randall and Freddie Steward particularly have added to that mix.”