Eddie Jones insists England are not 'underdogs' against Ireland
By Dan Sansom
Last Updated: 01/02/19 10:26am
Eddie Jones insists England are not "underdogs" ahead of their Six Nations opener against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
England open their account against an Ireland team who enter the tournament as favourites after a standout 2018 that included a home win over world champions New Zealand in November.
The Grand Slam winners have been victorious in their last 12 matches at the Aviva Stadium and are widely backed to extend that run on Saturday, but Jones is refusing to cast his side as underdogs.
"It's well documented that no one thinks we can win but I can tell you everyone inside our camp believes we can win," the England head coach said.
"It's fun. You want to play the best in the world away from home and Ireland are the best in the world at the moment.
"Everyone is writing them up and they have got to carry that expectation round, so we're excited about the prospect of playing there. Praise can make you weak."
England have gambled by retaining Elliot Daly at full-back, overlooking the aerial expertise of Mike Brown despite the kicking threat posed by Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray.
Also present are Manu Tuilagi at inside centre and Jack Nowell on the left wing, the latter described by Jones as a "street-fighter" ideally suited to the ferocious welcome expected at the Aviva.
England have not beaten Ireland in Dublin since 2013 and although Jones knows many people expect the Irish to make a triumphant start to the defence of their crown, he insists his squad are determined to end their winning run.
"The boys are fit, they're together. They're serious, but they've got a smile on their face. They're good to go and they want to make England proud," he added.
"I never use the status of being underdogs, it's never been one of the tricks of the trade because we never think we're not better than the opposition.
"I'd hate to go into a game thinking we weren't better than the opposition, that we need surprises or tricks to win the game.
"We don't need that. We want Ireland to be at their absolute best, we want to be at our best and then for the best team to win."