English jibes about Ireland being a boring team were today dismissed as merely a headline in the build-up to Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations opener in Dublin.
Six Nations champions and Grand Slam winners Ireland welcome an England side to the Aviva Stadium that is still smarting over the final-round 24-15 defeat they suffered at home to Joe Schmidt’s side last March and there has been more than one verbal dig thrown into the Irish side ahead of Saturday’s sell-out clash.
The most recent grenade came from England defence coach John Mitchell on Monday when he claimed Ireland “will try to bore the shit out of us”. Former All Blacks head coach Mitchell did also say Ireland were the best side in the world right now and Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby dismissed the main talking point when talking to the media at the team’s training base in Kildare today.
"It's a headline," Easterby said. “If you look at the article and read a bit more about what he actually said, I don't think there's too much to read into that. We focus on what we do. We are good at what we do and there will always be an opinion about whatever team is playing, no matter how good or poor they are, there is always going to be an opinion.
"We will take that in our stride and look forward to creating a game on the weekend we feel we are capable of.”
Asked whether Irish players would take the comments as a back-handed compliment or sign of respect, Easterby said: "Guys use motivation or things like that in whatever way they want individually but for us as a squad, we don't take too much interest in what is being said outside of that.
"It is what it is. It's a bit of a headline and we are just focusing on how good we can be, come the weekend and let's see how the game goes."
Head coach Schmidt will unveil his starting line-up and matchday 23 on Thursday and Easterby suggested he would have a full deck to select from after all 38 players in the squad had trained at Carton House and there were no injury concerns.
"Everyone came through. We've been very lucky with the injury list. At the moment we’ve got a pretty healthy squad of players and that creates a fair bit of competition and the competitiveness in training is up to the level you’d expect.
"Every team strives for depth and quality throughout every position and we are no different.
"The quality of the squad we’ve got here is strong and that is driving the standards and everyone is being kept on their toes. It is a good place to be at the moment and the guys have trained really well, and not just the first part of this week but the back end of last week was really useful as well."