Conor Murray thinks Ireland need to reach "another level" to beat England

Ireland's title hopes were derailed by a 27-22 defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield last year

"I honestly believe that if we beat five teams in a seven-week period in a year when we were away to France and England it would surpass anything that has gone before", said Ward.

Seven of the 23-man squad on duty against Scotland last Saturday were between the ages of 11 and 14 when Ireland were last crowned Grand Slam champions - that's quite a legacy. The only game which was within a score was France and that, of course, was won by that late drop-goal from Johnny Sexton, the significance of which I will outline a little bit later.

There are, of course, no complaints about posting four wins from four games but that's in the past - everything now focuses on beating England next Saturday at Twickenham. Definitely not. I think we've enough knowledge about them and experience to deal with that.

"I haven't played there before so it would be pretty special to go to what is an incredible stadium with 80-odd thousand people". But you've got to take these opportunities when you create them.

England missed Hughes badly when he went off in the first half and, with Lawes also out of action - both are due to have scans on Monday - Armand fits the bill for the hard-edged forward needed against Ireland.

Asked if Ireland have players to stand alongside those history-makers from 2009, Schmidt replied: "I think by evidence of pure performance and results, I think you'd have to say so".

"And then there's this young crew - James Ryan doesn't know what it's like to lose a Six Nations". There's kids like that who need to understand that this doesn't happen very often.

Maitland, 29, said the Six Nations was "obviously a really tough competition".

England head coach Eddie Jones has warned that a long road lies ahead before his side cure their breakdown ills after they struggled to impose themselves for the second game running against France on Saturday.

Ireland, who also prevented English Grand Slams in 2001 and 2011, are braced for a backlash. Today we just wanted to go out there and show that we can defend how we want to.

"For a team who had lost one game in 25 to suddenly be 27 games and on the back of back-to-back losses, that is going to make them incredibly keen to make sure that they deny us what we denied them past year". If that's how they want to do it, we've got to adapt to that.

Six Nations winners Ireland have moved past England into second spot ahead of their clash at Twickenham on Sunday.

With only one Premiership club in the last eight of Europe's Champions Cup - there are four from France's Top 14 and three from the Pro14 - the problems encountered by England are mirrored at domestic level.


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