Nick Kennedy looks ahead to England's Six Nations clash with Ireland at Twickenham
Nick Kennedy says Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury will thrive on facing Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.
Last Updated: 18/02/14 10:47am
O'Connell and Toner were at the fore in a huge effort by the Ireland pack, which laid the foundations for their impressive victory over defending champions Wales last Saturday.
Lawes, 24, and Launchbury, 22, were similarly instrumental for England in their victory over Scotland on the same day, as they continue to impress in their fledging international careers.
The English locks have earned rave review for their work-rate and aggression, while Lawes has also been praised for the way he has taken on the responsibility of calling and running the lineout.
However, they face a massive challenge against an in-form Irish pack at Twickenham. Though, it is one that Kennedy, who is now at Harlequins, believes they will thrive on.
"I am a big fan of both of the young second rows in Launchbury and Lawes," Kennedy told Skysports.com. "They get through so much work that it really frees up the back row to carry. Courtney has been carrying well too. I have been impressed and I think they will get better and better as the tournament goes on.
"Paul O'Connell does loads of work before every game and he looks to get up and spoil lineouts. That is what he has done all his career and he will look to do that.
"England have brought in Lee Mears - who I knew from my time with England. He really knows his stuff so I think he will help the team out there. But they have a lot of experience now. They have been doing it in a lot of games.
"I am sure they can [match their opponents]. They have been playing so well and they will really relish that challenge."
After their opening day defeat to France, which was followed by victory over Scotland, Stuart Lancaster's team must beat Joe Schmidt's side to retain their hopes of winning the tournament.
"I was very, very impressed with the way that Ireland took on Wales," Kennedy said. "Wales started in the first few minutes trying to bully them but Ireland were not having any of it.
"Their work at the break down was extremely impressive, as was their tactical game as well. They are a really experienced side. They kicked the ball a lot but it worked for them. It will be a massive game.
"The aerial battle will be key, looking at how much Ireland kicked the ball and how many up and under they were kicking. England will be happy they have Mike Brown there who is one of the best under the high ball in the business. The wingers will have to help him out so the battle of the back three will be key.
"I think you have to back England at home so I say they would be favourites with the Twickenham crowd behind them. But I think it will be a very close game."
Nick Kennedy was speaking at an Aviva Premiership Rugby Schools Programme event where kids had the chance to get closer to stars from the Aviva Premiership.