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Te'o expects boiling point

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Ben Te'o expects Six Nations blockbuster against Ireland to reach 'boiling point'

England centre Ben Te’o expects the opening Six Nations heavyweight clash with Ireland to reach a ‘boiling point’ with high stakes on offer so early in the tournament.

Ireland and England have won the last five Six Nations titles, leaving little doubt over the enormity of the blockbuster opening clash which will be influential in determining the tournament winner. With Joe Schmidt’s side coming off a Grand Slam which finished with a victory over England at Twickenham in the final round, Te’o expects an intense clash.

“This game is pretty big for them. Playing England is pretty big for everyone, it seems,” said England centre Te’o told AAP.

“You realise everyone wants to knock us over, but we’re not just sitting ducks. I’m sure it will reach boiling point and will be intense, which is what everyone wants to see.

“We’ve had some good battles with them over the last few years and they’ve definitely been the form team in Europe.

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Ireland are favourites holding a home ground advantage at the Aviva Stadium, where they have not lost to England since 2013. Having defended their home turf against the All Blacks in November, Ireland will be confident of doing the same against England.

“They’ve also proven to be the best team in the world at the moment, with their wins against the All Blacks.

“It feels a bit like knockout rugby – we get one shot at them, they get one shot at us too.

“That’s the way it is. We’ve been the two better teams in the last few years and we meet in the first game. That’s just how it is.”

The 32-year-old midfielder started against Ireland at inside centre alongside Jonathan Joseph at Twickenham last March, and could feature again if Eddie Jones persists with a power line-up. Outside centre Manu Tuilagi is finally fit after making an international return last November and could be paired with Te’o.

“Manu’s a phenomenal athlete. He’s been back at his club playing week in, week out and he looks sharp out there now. It all depends on what balance the coaches want,” Te’o said.

Captain Owen Farrell is expected to recover from thumb surgery in time for the crucial clash, but has been used at flyhalf and inside centre by Jones. Either way, if Farrell is fit he is expected to start and resume a rivalry with Jonathan Sexton.

“Seeing Johnny on a daily basis for a season at Leinster, you understand why he’s the player that he is,” Te’o said.

“A lot of these very good players tick in the same way and Owen is pretty similar to him.

“They can both be quite confrontational, a bit aggressive. You’ve got one cranky guy on the other side and one cranky guy on our side.

“They want things done the right way, with intensity, and they love competing. They’re both very demanding players and that’s why they are the best.

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Ben Te'o expects Six Nations blockbuster against Ireland to reach 'boiling point'