Maro Itoje believes that Ireland have been the number one team in the northern hemisphere for over a year but he is fully confident his England side can get the better of them when the teams clash in Dublin on Saturday.
Ireland hosting England is the highlight clash of the opening round of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations.
England’s improving form from the Autumn internationals and the return of some key players from injury means that the Aviva Stadium clash could be a lot closer than Ireland’s 24-15 win at Twickenham last March which secured a historic Grand Slam.
“Over the last year or so, Ireland have been the number one team in the northern hemisphere,” Itoje told The Daily Mail.
“Obviously we want to be the dominant team. That’s always been the case. I think England should be the number one team, but we’re not at the moment.
“The only way to rectify that is to beat Ireland. To be the best, you must beat the best.”
The Saracens lock is fully confident that his team has what it takes to topple the number two ranked side in the world and he admits that it would be a “great way” to kick off their Six Nations campaign.
“We’ll find out how far away from them we are on Saturday. I have complete faith in our team, players, coaches and staff.
“We can definitely beat them, I have no doubt in my mind about that. It’s a great opportunity for us, it truly is.
“It’s a great way to start and will be a great way to kick off what will hopefully be a very successful year for us.”