It's been shown that for teams who lose a World Cup final, there’s always a bit of hangover after that.
Certainly, it’s a massive downer for the players. Particularly where England were going into that final, having destroyed New Zealand in the semi-final.
They certainly struggled against France first up but I think they’ve shown character. They came back in the second half of that game in Paris - they could have drawn it in the end.
They won in very difficult circumstances in Murrayfield, horrific weather conditions, so they’re in a better place.
Albeit, not having the two Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy, that is a huge bonus from an Ireland perspective.
The England side won’t be announced until later today but given the Vunipolas are out, having Manu Tuilagi available in midfield becomes an absolute necessity.
If you look at the two games that Ireland lost last year, certainly the opening game of the Six Nations in Dublin, England controlled the gain line right from the start.
The massive physicality that England bring into games, it’s difficult for teams to match that. Ireland didn’t do that in Dublin last year, they certainly didn’t do it in the warm-up game last August, albeit in different circumstances, given they were just back from nine days training in Portugal.
Against England you’ve got to match them physically. If you lose that battle, you’re in trouble straight away.
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You also have to start well against them. England are a momentum side. Once they start well, it’s difficult to turn them around, whereas if they have to chase a game, they’re a totally different animal.
A lot depends on how Ireland start but always against England it comes down to the setpiece and that’s where Ireland have to impose themselves.
Logically you have to say England are favourites. I think they will be better than we’ve seen them in the Six Nations to date.
A lot revolves around selection: Tuilagi in midfield and what they do in the back row. Tom Curry and Sam Underhill were outstanding during the World Cup campaign but Eddie Jones has played Curry at number eight and he’s not a number eight. It will be interesting to see if he sticks with that.
That does have an impact scrimmage-wise but also it means that Ireland have a better chance of tying Curry in at the breakdown.
Those issues narrow the margin but I still think Ireland would have to be at their absolute best, an incremental improvement again from the Welsh game so you’d have to fancy England.
The Irish women have played really well in the opening games of the Championship to date. The quality of their performances, like the men, has improved.
Their skill levels against Wales in difficult conditions were outstanding.
But it’s an unfair playing field in many ways. The England team is a fully professional outfit. In Ireland, all the girls are also working.
England are two from two, they beat France away in the opening game, and unfortunately, our women are going to have their work cut out against them on Sunday.
Donal Lenihan was speaking on RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland.
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