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Exclusive Jeremy Guscott insists England will not fear a Six Nations decider in Dublin


England head coach Eddie Jones and his Ireland counterpart Andy Farrell (David Davies/PA)

England head coach Eddie Jones and his Ireland counterpart Andy Farrell (David Davies/PA)

England head coach Eddie Jones and his Ireland counterpart Andy Farrell (David Davies/PA)

Jeremy Guscott believes a showdown with Ireland in the final round of Six Nations matches will hold few fears for Eddie Jones and his England, if the championship comes down to a last day shoot-out in Dublin next month.

Ireland will meet England at the Aviva Stadium on March 20th, in a game that could serve up a thrilling conclusion to the tournament if they can piece together a string of wins ahead of that last day clash.

Yet Guscott believes Ireland under Andy Farrell has slipped back from their Six Nation winning form under Joe Schmidt, as he gave an exclusive interview to sundayworld.com.

"It would be nice to think that England vs Ireland on the final day of the Six Nation would be special, but I think England have their mark right now,” said Guscott, who will be part of the BBC coverage of this year's Six Nations Championship.

"Ireland were fairly flat in the recent meetings, so if I’m England and I’m going to Dublin for a Grand Slam, I’d fancy my chances.

"England have got three home games that they should win. I think Wales and Ireland away two years ago, when Wales were winning Grand Slams and Ireland were winning Grand Slams under Warren Gatland and Schmidt, you would have called that a tough ask.”

“International rugby is always hard and it’s tough and but the whole dynamic has changed because of the coaching change with Ireland. Even with Farrell, he’s been part of the setup but, he’s brought in new people and they have not found their way yet."

Despite Wales and Ireland failing to shine in last year's Six Nations, Guscott does not believe it will be England will storm to a Six Nation triumph, as he suggested France could be the dark horses to push them all the way.

“France played England at Twickenham in that Nations Cup, with a third of their normal side and nearly won, so France will be a bigger challenge than Ireland will be," he said, reflecting on a 22-19 win for Eddie Jones' men in December.

"France have been absolutely appalling in their half-back consistency. I know they’ve had a lot of different pairings over the last decade and nothing has been sustained. It’d be miracle if a half-back pairing in the last 10 years had more than a 15-game run together.

“After beating England in the Six Nations last year, we thought they were on their way but ill-discipline which has been a massive problem of theirs ruined that. France are always going to give you an opportunity to win a game just because of something silly they might do.

“I think the players that they’ve got, now realise what’s required. (Antoine) Dupont was sensational last season and continues to be brilliant, (Romain) Ntamack injured but young and (Matthieu) Jalibert’s a talent. Their back line’s flipping ferocious.

“France can come with a team expecting a good result. Yet always they’ve been a team that we’d keep on saying: “Which one is going to turn up?”

Guscott also insisted England head coach Jones remains their ace card, even if the Aussie's brash reputation makes his a villain of the piece of rival fans.

"A lot of people like to pick at Eddie, that’s the nature of the media and the beast, but he knows what he’s doing, he’s a canny guy," he added.

"Sometimes Eddie gets carried away with what he says to the media but that’s his personality running away with itself and let’s be honest we don’t want him to be boring and sterile. It’s nice to get those quips when they’re not personal.

"No one likes someone being too personal and criticising because that’s not funny, that’s rude, disrespectful and you lose a lot of brownie points doing that and occasionally, he’s done it. Why? Only he knows but he’s too clever of a person to do it, his mouth just runs away with itself.

"But I'm not surprised he stayed on after getting England to the last World Cup final. If you’re offered the opportunity to coach New Zealand, England or South Africa, you take that job.

"When you come that close to winning a World Cup, as England did in Japan, why not give it another crack with a bloody good team with all the resources and the talent’s there, he’s just got to pick it."

Six Nations Wales v Ireland is on BBC One from 2pm on Sunday.

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Online Editors