Jason Leonard believes player workload key to Ireland’s Grand Slam hopes

Jason Leonard

Jason Leonard has backed Ireland to achieve a Grand Slam in this year’s Six Nations thanks to their player workload management.

Ireland head into the Six Nations as the world’s number-one ranked side thanks to recent wins against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, and will be hoping their winning record can continue against European opposition.

Many expect Ireland to win the Six Nations this year despite France’s unbeaten run, as the French and English will have to travel to Dublin in this year’s championship.

England great Jason Leonard agrees that Ireland are favourites, and argued that a Grand Slam is a real possibility when speaking on behalf of investment platform Saxo and their partnership with Harlequins.

Jason Leonard on Ireland’s Grand Slam chances.

Ireland will probably play down their chances but I’d suspect they’ll be the favourites. They play great rugby and they’ve had some impressive wins,” Leonard said.

“Their set-up right now is possibly the blueprint for international rugby, the only other set-up that comes close to it is New Zealand. 

“They can actually manage the players’ workload and their training, making them peak for certain games in certain times of the season.

“The English and the French seasons are a battle from the first game to the last game, where their players play the majority of the games for their club. In Ireland, they can pull players out.

“They’ll have a word with the clubs to make sure they’re rested for a couple of weeks. Everything is there for Ireland. Is a Grand Slam possible? I think they’ll fancy their chances, having England and France at home and getting results on the road.”

Andy Farrell and co. won’t be looking past Wales.

While achieving a Grand Slam in this year’s Six Nations will be the ultimate goal for Ireland, head coach Andy Farrell and his team certainly won’t be looking that far ahead.

Up first is an out-of-form Wales side which recently replaced Wayne Pivac with Warren Gatland as head coach, and they will be hoping the Kiwi can drastically change their fortunes after a dismal 2022.

Gatland has expressed his pleasure at having Ireland first in the Six Nations, and Farrell will be well aware that Wales could prove to be a banana skin for his side.

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