Six Nations 2019: John Mitchell predicts Ireland will ‘bore the s***’ out of England to ramp up the stakes

England have stepped up the mind games with Ireland after defence coach John Mitchell predicted the reigning Six Nations champions will “bore the s*** out of us” in this Saturday’s grudge match in Dublin.

The build-up to this year’s tournament has seen both Eddie Jones and Joe Schmidt praise each others talents in a peculiarly calm pre-cursor, with the worst that Jones had in the locker at last week’s Six Nations launch being a tongue-in-cheek quip that Irish fly-half Johnny Sexton has a “bat phone” to the referee in relation to his on-field chatter.

But Mitchell has ramped up the stakes just five days from the Aviva Stadium showdown by accusing Ireland of playing boring rugby, despite Schmidt’s side coming into the match as reigning Grand Slam champions.

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“Ireland are arguably the best in the world and, for me, are a side who – through their process being a well-coached side – are resilient and they will try to bore the s**t out of us basically,” Mitchell told the BBC.

“Ultimately, it will come down to a small piece of possession when you’re not focused that can hurt you, in a contest like this.”


England Six Nations squad





1/35 Forwards: Jack Clifford

2/35 Dan Cole

3/35 Luke Cowan-Dickie

4/35 Tom Curry

5/35 Ben Earl

6/35 Ellis Genge

7/35 Jamie George

8/35 Nathan Hughes

9/35 Maro Itoje

10/35 George Kruis

11/35 Joe Launchbury

12/35 Courtney Lawes

13/35 Ben Moon

14/35 Brad Shields

15/35 Kyle Sinckler

16/35 Jack Singleton

17/35 Billy Vunipola

18/35 Mako Vunipola

19/35 Harry Williams

20/35 Mark Wilson

21/35 Backs: Chris Ashton

22/35 Mike Brown

23/35 Joe Cokanasiga

24/35 Elliot Daly

25/35 Ollie Devoto

26/35 Owen Farrell

27/35 George Ford

28/35 Jonny May

29/35 Jack Nowell

30/35 Dan Robson

31/35 Henry Slade

32/35 Ben Te’o

33/35 Ollie Thorley

34/35 Manu Tuilagi

35/35 Ben Youngs

1/35 Forwards: Jack Clifford

2/35 Dan Cole

3/35 Luke Cowan-Dickie

4/35 Tom Curry

5/35 Ben Earl

6/35 Ellis Genge

7/35 Jamie George

8/35 Nathan Hughes

9/35 Maro Itoje

10/35 George Kruis

11/35 Joe Launchbury

12/35 Courtney Lawes

13/35 Ben Moon

14/35 Brad Shields

15/35 Kyle Sinckler

16/35 Jack Singleton

17/35 Billy Vunipola

18/35 Mako Vunipola

19/35 Harry Williams

20/35 Mark Wilson

21/35 Backs: Chris Ashton

22/35 Mike Brown

23/35 Joe Cokanasiga

24/35 Elliot Daly

25/35 Ollie Devoto

26/35 Owen Farrell

27/35 George Ford

28/35 Jonny May

29/35 Jack Nowell

30/35 Dan Robson

31/35 Henry Slade

32/35 Ben Te’o

33/35 Ollie Thorley

34/35 Manu Tuilagi

35/35 Ben Youngs

Mitchell’s comments could easily backfire on England should the Irish use them as motivation for the weekend’s clash, though they could also be seen as an attempt to distract Schmidt’s side from their gameplan in an effort to prove a point to the English.

This will be Mitchell’s first Six Nations since returning to the England set-up as Paul Gustard’s replacement last year, but the New Zealander has not wasted any time in wading into the Anglo-Irish rivalry.

Mitchell did not follow in Jones’ footsteps by targeting Sexton, but he did make it clear where England’s expectations lie in regaining the Six Nations title that they relinquished last year.

“It’s our aim to win the Six Nations but first up is Ireland and arguably they are the best team in the world,” Mitchell added. “If you’re going to play the best team in the world, you might as well get into them straight away.

“They’ve deserved all the honours that came their way in 2018. Having them first up makes the challenge even more exciting.

“It’s a challenge that you don’t over-think, instead you walk towards it and embrace it.

“It’s always been tough playing there, but it’s even harder now because they’re a well coached side. They’re very consistent and have a process they’re very confident in.”

England are expected to try and bash their way through Ireland, with Mako and Billy Vunipola back fit for selection and centres Ben Te’o and Manu Tuilagi potentially forming one of the most powerful midfield partnerships in world rugby.

But given the renowned physicality of the Six Nations, Ireland are not expecting anything out of the ordinary.

“Every game we play in is brutal and physical because it’s 15 men trying to kill another 15 men within the rules of the game, you know?” said Munster and Ireland wing Keith Earls.

“I wouldn’t get too bogged down in it. I’d obviously expect a game like that to be brutal, brutally physical.

“As I said, they are expected to be brutally physical against Scotland, Italians and the Welsh as well.

“So, it’s nothing new, it’s just the two coaches; on the field, we always know it’s going to be brutal.”

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