In a week that has seen England defence coach John Mitchell claim that Ireland will try to “bore the s***” out of his side to secure victory, and former Irish halfback Peter Stringer label English skipper Owen Farrell as a “hothead”, Jones has waded in by insisting that his team’s opponents need to shoulder the burden of being the world’s best side.
Ireland enter the Six Nations as favourites to take out a second consecutive title following a mightily successful 2018, which also saw them defeat world champions New Zealand on home soil for the first time, in addition to claiming a three-match series victory against the Wallabies for the first time since 1979.
Consequently, they enter their tournament opener against England as strong favourites, but Jones is refuses to consider 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,” he told RTÉ.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
Jones’ warning comes after Ireland coach Joe Schmidt dismissed Mitchell’s claims that his side will “bore” the English into defeat, saying that he expects an “exhilarating” affair in the Irish capital.
The two nations are set to square off at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on February 2, with kick-off scheduled at 4:45pm local time.
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