Ireland will have to learn by doing when they face England and there's little that can prepare them for the cacophony of noise when the home side hit a purple patch, says Paul O’Connell.

Andy Farrell was just three games into his tenure in 2020 when Covid-19 struck and all but nine of his 22 matches in charge have been played out in empty or limited-capacity stadia.

The 30-24 loss in Paris two weeks ago would have, for many, been their first taste of a hostile away crowd.

For the likes of Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen, Dan Sheehan, and Jamison Gibson-Park, this was a new experience and many players have spoken specifically about the 'electric' atmosphere at the Stade de France.

Caelan Doris, who was on the bench against England two years ago, Craig Casey, James Hume and James Lowe, also have limited game-time in international matches with a crowd, with Twickenham on equal terms as Paris in terms of noise.

"It is a very tough place to go to," said O’Connell, who won three of his six games as a player against England at that venue.

"You have that drive in through the West car park and the crowds having their lunch or whatever they have there before they go in. And then you walk in through the crowd.

"It’s a massive stadium. In fairness, there is a great atmosphere there and they do react well to the team playing well. They do get behind them.

"So it is a tough place to go and win to be sure. My experiences there were good and bad. We took some bad beatings there but we had some great days there as well.

"It’s probably no different to Paris for us. It’s something that some guys have to acknowledge that they haven’t a lot of experience of, you know, due to Covid, there isn’t a lot of experience of these away games in hostile environments where the opposition might get on top of you for a little while.

"And then the crowd might get behind them because they’re getting on top of you.

"Sometimes you just have to acknowledge that that is going to happen and use your smarts to ride it out, and then figure it out, to try and get back on top.

"I have no doubt in my mind that there will be a period in the game like that in Twickenham. It will be exciting and interesting to see how our players react."

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England have been trucking along in this campaign with wins over Italy and Wales, although Eddie Jones’ side haven't quite hit their straps just yet.

O’Connell explained why he believes the 2019 World Cup finalists are on the verge of a big performance.

He said: "I think some of the players they’ve brought in. I’d end up watching a little bit of Harlequins playing because Jerry Flannery is over there and we’d end up chatting a little bit so I probably watched a lot of Alex Dombrandt playing.

"He’s one of the most skillful forwards I’ve ever seen playing in terms of his ability to run lines, in terms of his ability to handle the ball under pressure.

"I suppose over the last few years England have played the game a certain way.

Alex Dombrandt scored England's only try against Wales

"When you go back even to the last World Cup, they’ve a very clever tactical kicking game, they’ve real power in their carry and their forward runners, and if they get on top of you it’s very tough.

"It’s very tough to defend their forwards in terms of how they carry, but if they do get on top of you in terms of how they carry they’re very good at playing on top of you and kicking on top of that.

"So you end up, I suppose, having to tackle a lot of big men and you end up having to do a lot of it in your own half.

"I think when England are good that’s what they do really well and when they’ve been good against us in the last few years that’s what they’ve done really well.

"We've seen more and more of that, and we looked at the Welsh game and some clips where they kicked well and they kicked well after kicking well. So that’s a challenge for us to manage that we’ve hard in the past, and it will be interesting to see how we manage.

"We’ve had some tough experiences in Twickenham in recent times and that’s because England are such a good side. They are so physical and so well-coached.

Ireland lost 24-12 two years ago at Twickenham

"They play a really shrewd tactical kicking game where they can kick long but their short kicking is really good as well. They just keep putting you under pressure and try to keep you in your own half.

"You need to be able to manage that. Hopefully, we’ll be in a better situation than we were two years ago to manage it, in terms of the players understanding how they want to defend with Simon Easterby and attack with Andy and Catty.

Ireland will be without Rónan Kelleher, Tom O’Toole and Andrew Porter with all three front row suffering injuries in this campaign.

Porter's absence, confirmed yesterday, is likely to mean a recall for 114-cap Cian Healy, who was a replacement in the first two matches and rested against Italy.

The Leinster loosehead turns 35 in October but O’Connell has no doubt he can be relied on if given the nod.

"It is incredible," said the Limerick man of Healy's longevity.

"I suppose he’s a little bit of a secret trainer, Cian. He’s very much into his recovery. He loves his weights. He loves the gym. He’s a great fella as well. He has great experience.

"He’s been good at figuring things out. Some of the ways Andy wants to play is a bit of a challenge for some of the older guys, some of the guys who have been around for a while, and he’s been very good at figuring it out and hanging in there.

"I suppose in terms of the scrum, the experience he has, the physical size he has, his appetite to go forward in the scrum is a big asset to anyone, it's a big asset to John Fogarty.

"So yeah, he's been great and he's signed up again, he has no intention of finishing so he's a real asset to Irish rugby."

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