Six Nations champions Ireland are bracing themselves for an onslaught from a wounded English side at Twickenham next week as they bid to prevent their visitors from securing a third Grand Slam crown, flyhalf Johnny Sexton said on Sunday.
Ireland secured the Six Nations title on Saturday with a week to spare following a 28-8 win over Scotland and England’s subsequent loss to France in Paris.
Having prevented England from securing the Grand Slam on the last day of the 2017 championship, Ireland are hoping they do not suffer the same misfortune at Twickenham next weekend.
“The shoe is on the other foot now after last year and I’m sure they’ll be licking their lips,” Sexton was quoted as saying by the Sunday Times newspaper.
After back-to-back defeats by Scotland and France, England will also be motivated to ensure they do not end up with a hat-trick of defeats to end this year’s Six Nations campaign.
“Every time you pull on an international jersey at home in front of the Irish people, your family, your friends, you don’t need any more motivation. I’m sure it will be the exact same for England,” Sexton said.
“I know a lot of them personally from Lions trip and they are very, very proud people. They’ll be gunning for us.”
Speaking after watching England’s 22-16 Paris defeat at a post-match reception in Dublin, Sexton said the Irish team were not yet letting their hair down to celebrate their third championship in five years.
“It’s very muted upstairs. It’s a very strange feeling to win the championship with a game to go and so much still to play for, and we know how difficult it’s going to be with England,” he said.
Coach Joe Schmidt said the fact the championship was in the bag would not cause his team to relax.
“If you can’t motivate yourself against England, then you’re in trouble,” Schmidt was quoted as saying in Ireland’s Sunday Independent newspaper.
“If we’re not very much in the game, they could get away from us very quickly with the athletes that they have in their team,” he said. “If you don’t keep going forward in this championship, you end up going backwards.