Ireland great compares Andy Farrell’s side to ‘Richie McCaw-Dan Carter’ era All Blacks as he talks down England’s chances

Colin Newboult
Andy Farrell's side in a huddle during the 2024 Six Nations.

Andy Farrell's side in a huddle during the 2024 Six Nations.

Former number eight Jamie Heaslip insists that only serious ill-discipline can stop Ireland from claiming a victory at Twickenham this weekend.

Andy Farrell’s men go into Saturday’s clash against England as heavy favourites having won their three games by big scorelines.

They have hammered France (38-17), Italy (36-0) and Wales (31-7), and some have predicted that the Red Rose will be in for a similar hiding.

That potentially includes Heaslip, who believes that the only hope for Steve Borthwick’s outfit is for the Irishmen to get it wrong on the discipline front.

Red cards and “trick plays”

“I haven’t seen what the bookies are saying, but in order for England to win, Ireland have to go down to like 14 or 13 players, and I think England need a couple of trick plays up their sleeve,” he told the BBC Rugby Union Daily podcast.

In contrast to a struggling England, who have yet to truly fire under Borthwick, Ireland have been exceptional over the past two years.

Farrell’s men have bounced back superbly from their World Cup quarter-final exit and are on course for a second successive Six Nations Grand Slam.

“They only know winning,” Heaslip said.

“It’s a pretty powerful mindset coming into it and fills them with confidence. It kind of reminds me of that Richie McCaw-Dan Carter side with New Zealand.

“That period from 2007 to the 2015 World Cup when they were just so, so dominant.

“It builds a bit of a flywheel momentum for these guys. They don’t take anything for granted, that’s for sure.

“Andy Farrell won’t let them take anything for granted. They’re not fearful of going there [Twickenham] now but they should definitely understand the history between the two sides.

“Farrell is definitely one of the best people to remind them of that.”

Ireland have won four Grand Slams in total, with the latter three coming in 14 years (2009, 2018 and 2023).

2010 clash

Heaslip was part of the 2009 side that ended 61 years of hurt and also started the England game a year later – the last time Ireland visited England as defending Grand Slam champions.

They ended up claiming a 20-16 triumph to end the Red Rose’s Grand Slam and keep their own title changes alive.

“For us, it was huge,” Heaslip said.

“I remember going there in 2008 and getting it served to us particularly at the scrum.

“I will never forget, particularly being at eight, all day just having this scrum come back on me and it was a nightmare, they were just so physically dominant.

“I remember going into it [in 2010] thinking ‘we can’t let that happen, we can’t let them stake their claim on this’.

“We had a couple of, not tricks up our sleeve, but plays that could help expose that and Tommy’s one [breaking through the seam of the line-out to score his try] encapsulated that.”

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