Ireland forwards coach Gert Smal is convinced that the England pack will not be taken lightly by his forward line in the forthcoming RBS 6 Nations clash at Croke Park.
Smal, the former Springbok flanker, has noticed a subtle change in the way England have played in recent times, but insists Ireland will be capable of adapting to that challenge.
“They have a fairly strong pack so you have to neutralise that and see if you can play the game in their half,” said Smal.
“I think England are playing slightly different from the way they have in the past but they still have a big pack and their backline isn’t too shabby.
“Obviously they don’t have Jonny Wilkinson at the moment. But the fly-half that they have at the moment (Andy Goode) is a fairly good kicker.”
The destiny of the Millennium Trophy could be decided up front, and the South African believes lock partnership Paul O’Connell and Donncha O’Callaghan represent a formidable duo.
“Paul O’Connell is a machine. Definitely one of the best locks in world rugby.
“Donncha does the dirty work, not a lot of people see the amount of work that he put in cleaning out the rucks, making turnovers, and he gives us the opportunity to carry the ball and have forward momentum.
“We have to hammer away with pressure. We try to give the players as much responsibility as possible, make them as independent of coaches as early as they can be. Players have to make the decisions on the field.”
Ireland have won their opening two RBS 6 Nations matches against France and Italy, as they seek to win an elusive first championship and Grand Slam since 1985.