England were awe-inspiring in their demolition of Scotland on Saturday.
The team has forever carried a serious threat up front but even that now comes with a grace and skill level not since in a long time. Nathan Hughes made his most positive appearance of the Championship and Billy Vunipola wasted little time in announcing his return, dotting down for a try upon being introduced in the second half.
Add into that back-row cum second-row phenomenon that is Maro Itoje, and England’s pack could claim to be the best in world rugby right now.
However, Eddie Jones believes that they have improvements to make.
Before the tournament even began, many anticipated that the clash in Dublin would be a Grand Slam decider, winner-take-all spectacle. It’s now obvious that that won’t be the case although Jones insists his charges have been preparing with the intention of peaking in Dublin regardless.
“Physically we will be better than last week against Scotland,” said Jones following his sides ransacking of Scotland.
“We’ve spent eight weeks to be at our physical peak for this game and we will be. The emotion of the situation will arise from us a great performance.”
When the prospect of a 19th consecutive victory was put to him however, he was quick to deflect attention away from the milestone;
“Our aim is to be the best team in the world so we don’t need any external motivation.”
Such comments have come to be emblematic of this English team and their opinion of themselves. Always winning, but always improving as well. Indeed, it’s such comments that are likely to ruffle feathers in the opposition camp. Jones however, was cute enough to pay Ireland some compliments ahead of the clash this Saturday;
“Any team that beats the best team in the world (New Zealand) does a lot of good things.
“They (Ireland) are capable of playing really well, but it is our job to make sure they don’t.”
One statistic that won’t be on England’s side come Saturday however, is their record in Dublin. In Six Nations history they have triumphed in just 25% of their trips to Dublin, a record the Australian hopes will count for little come kick-off;
“You learn from history, we’ve got players who have been successful there and unsuccessful there,” he said. “We’ve gone over the areas why they were unsuccessful or successful, and factored that into our preparations this week. I expect us to play better than we did last week.”