O’Mahony : Ireland need to stop England’s pack

Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony has said that they will need to stop England’s forward pack from taking control if they are to remain on track for a Six Nations Grand Slam.

England lead Ireland in the Six Nations standings which is ironically how Ireland pipped England to the title in 2014 but this week when the team’s meet Ireland will have home advantage in Dublin on Saturday.

O’Mahony has been one of the outstanding players in Ireland’s nine-match winning Test run and he says that English players like veteran James Haskell brought huge physicality and aggression to the pack and they would have to be subdued early on.

Both sides come into the game at Lansdowne Road as the only teams having won both their matches of the campaign — though to many people’s minds England have been the more impressive side especially in coming from behind to beat Wales in their opening game in Cardiff.

“They are a hugely physical side,” O’Mahony told reporters.

“That always starts with your pack. Guys like Haskell have brought a huge physicality to what they do.

“(Billy) Vunipola, guys like (David) Atwood are really stepping up to the mark. They are physical guys. They look to implement themselves in the game as often as they can, get themselves on the front foot.

“As a result, England are on the front foot. It stems from their pack,” added the 25-year-old Munster star.

O’Mahony, who is seen as a future captain of the national side having previously captained the Under-18 and Under-20 teams, said England’s strengths didn’t stop with their pack.

“They’re a hugely adaptive side,” said O’Mahony.

“Their attacking play has come on a long way.”

“(Luther) Burrell, guys like (Anthony) Watson, George Ford. They’re impressive across the board.”

“Whoever plays at 15, Mike Brown or (Alex) Goode, it doesn’t really matter. We have a huge impressive impact bench as well. Guys like Tom Croft, (Nick) Easter to come on and make an impact with a huge amount of experience. They are quite a complete all round side.”

O’Mahony, who will have a different No.8 in the backrow this Sunday as Jamie Heaslip is recovering from the three fractured vertebrae he suffered when France lock Pascal Pape kneed him in their 18-11 win at Lansdowne Road, admitted the feeling in the Irish camp was mixed.

“It’s a strange enough feeling,” said O’Mahony.

“We are obviously happy to get the wins but I don’t think we have been overly happy with the perforance.”

“We’ve had two very tough games and we’ve battled them out well but I don’t think we’ve been quite as happy with our execution and our attention to detail.”

“On the flip side it gives us plenty to work on and plenty of things to look forward too and implement.”

O’Mahony, scorer of just one try in his international career, said the fact the Irish were one win away from equalling the national record of 10 successive wins — set back in 2002/03 when England ended the run with a Grand Slam clinching-win in Dublin — had not made the atmosphere any different.

“It’s always a great thing to be on a winning Irish side,” he said.

“We’ve been lucky enough to get a few over the last 18 months but I don’t think this team is going to take it any differently.

“Obviously the goal is to win the game but I think our process during this week and for game day is as it has been and that is all we are looking for. It would be great too,” he added.

Ireland squad for England

Backs

Isaac Boss, Tommy Bowe, Darren Cave, Gordon D’Arcy, Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Robbie Henshaw, Felix Jones, David Kearney, Rob Kearney, Ian Keatley, Ian Madigan, Conor Murray, Jared Payne, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton, Simon Zebo

Forwards

Rory Best, Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Iain Henderson, Billy Holland, Mike McCarthy, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Jordi Murphy, Sean O’Brien, Paul O’Connell (capt), Tommy O’Donnell, Peter O’Mahony, Mike Ross, Dominic Ryan, Richardt Strauss, Devin Toner, Roger Wilson

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