Ireland lock Iain Henderson hopes the painful memories of being humiliated by England in 2019 can help clinch Triple Crown glory at Twickenham.
Andy Farrell’s side travel to London later this month having made a flying start to the Six Nations by dispatching Scotland and Wales in successive weeks.
Ireland collapsed to an embarrassing 57-15 defeat to Eddie Jones’ men during a World Cup warm-up match last summer, just over six months after being beaten 32-20 by them on home soil in the Six Nations.
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Ulster captain Henderson admits the heavier of those two emphatic losses remains etched in Irish minds and is eager to make positive use of that chastening experience when they attempt to complete a clean sweep of victories over the home nations in a fortnight’s time.
“Obviously the Triple Crown is something that would be great to win,” said Henderson.
“But what a lot of the players will be thinking about is the last game that we had in Twickenham and how that definitely didn’t go the way we wanted it to go.
“We’ll definitely be looking back at that and looking to see how we can make improvements and what we can do.
“I think when any team puts 50 on you, there’s a wee element of surprise there.
“We’ll look back at that, we’ll see what went wrong. But ultimately we’ll be wanting to produce a very different performance.”
England will definitely be up for it, they’ll be looking to go after us, come out all guns blazing.
Ireland, then under the guidance of former boss Joe Schmidt, shipped eight tries at the home of English rugby last August.
They made it back-to-back victories at the start of a new era under head coach Farrell with Saturday’s convincing 24-14 win over reigning Grand Slam champions Wales in Dublin.
Tries from Jordan Larmour, Tadhg Furlong, Josh van der Flier and Andrew Conway secured the statement bonus-point success, which followed an unconvincing opening-weekend win over Scotland.
Henderson believes a fast, physical start will be essential on February 23 at Twickenham as Ireland strive for further improvement and consistent performances.
“England will definitely be up for it, they’ll be looking to go after us, come out all guns blazing,” continued the 27-year-old.
“We’ve got a week off now, a week to regenerate and recuperate, and try and fix what we think needs fixed. And going into that England week we can really ramp up.
“There’s a lot to work on and a lot that we want to get better at and improve. Dominating them physically early on will be key but everyone wants to do that in every game.
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“The quality we see in training and the quality we see guys producing for their provinces, we know it’s there and form’s one of those elusive things in sport that no-one can really explain.
“But when you get it right it feels great playing out there, it feels great amongst guys who are excited to make things happen.
“Hopefully as this tournament goes on we can bring more and more of it.”
England recovered from a surprise defeat to France in Paris by beating Scotland at Murrayfield to lift the Calcutta Cup.
Like team-mate Henderson, Ireland captain Johnny Sexton feels his team have a point to prove against the World Cup runners-up having suffered a “right old spanking” in each of last year’s meetings.
“It’s away from home and it’s against a team that were World Cup finalists and will be hurting [from the France defeat],” said the 34-year-old.
“They are a top-quality side and the last two times we’ve played England they’ve given us a right old spanking, so we need to up our game from those level of performances.
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