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The Ireland injury update and what they make of Borthwick's England

By Liam Heagney
Ireland's Garry Ringrose at training at Thursday (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Assistant coach Mike Catt has delivered the latest Ireland injury update and also shared his thoughts on how England are doing with Steve Borthwick three games into his second year in charge.

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The Irish are two wins away from completing their historic first back-to-back Grand Slam campaigns in the Guinness Six Nations.

Step three was defeating Wales 31-7 in Dublin last Saturday. Next up is a March 9 trip to Twickenham to take on Borthwick’s English, who are coming off the back of an abject 21-30 loss away to Scotland.

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Neither Garry Ringrose nor Hugo Keenan were involved in the round three success versus the Welsh and following an open training session on Thursday in front of a noisy gathering of Irish fans at Aviva Stadium, attack coach Catt provided a medical bulletin on Andy Farrell’s squad.

“Garry Ringrose trained with us today, which is good,” he began. “It’s nice to have him back, so he is progressing nicely. Hugo did a little bit on the sideline and did the fitness with the boys. He is progressing really nicely. Ryan Baird had a back spasm this morning, so he didn’t train.

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“Those are the ones, Garry and Hugo, the main two that are coming through nicely, so we will see how the weekend progresses. Garry had (only) done a couple of unit sessions, so I suppose (this was his) first full session in terms of doing absolutely everything.

“He has been running with us in the past couple of weeks as well. He is progressing nicely so fingers crossed he comes through and is fine.

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“Hugo, again, it’s a process, just slowly ticking along nicely. Hopefully by Tuesday, Wednesday he will be training fully and give us that opportunity. We need that sort of competition in the team for us to drive forward.”

Aside from Baird, Oli Jager, who made his Test debut off the bench versus Wales, was absent from training due to a minor bang on his knee.

Reflecting on the victory over the Welsh, Catt explained that Ireland were hard in their assessment of how they played and he stressed they much improve if England are to beaten in London.

“We have had a review of the Wales game and it wasn’t perfect by any means. We have really realised what we need to do over the next 10 days to prepare properly for England. We went away from what we are really, really good at against Wales.

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“It’s something we have addressed and we need to make sure that we get right. The session today was pretty sharp. It’s a good start. The boys will relax this weekend but then come Sunday, Monday they will be fired up again.”

Asked for specifics about what aspects didn’t satisfy last weekend, Catt remarked: “That would be telling, wouldn’t it? We just went through the motions a little bit rather than actually really implementing the way we wanted to play.

“It was a bit disappointing in certain aspects of the game, but we have addressed it, we are good enough to address it and it’s something we have to get right for England. We will!”

Beaten in Scotland, England are facing the prospect of suffering their fourth successive two-wins-from-five Six Nations campaign unless they secure an upset win over Ireland or win away to France in Lyon.

Catt, a 2003 Grand Slam and Rugby World Cup winner with England, branded the Borthwick team as dangerous, explaining that attack is usually the last part of the jigsaw to fit when moulding a new side.

Asked if the English had improved since Borthwick succeeded Eddie Jones in December 2022, the Ireland assistant suggested: “It’s not for me to say, to be honest.

“Doing the job, especially from an attacking point of view, it does take time. It’s a tough one to get, especially when you are at the top end of the sport. You take a bit of time to do that.

“Yeah, the individuals that are there, they are definitely capable of causing teams (trouble). They got third in the World Cup so the players are all there barring Owen Farrell. Everybody else is still there and they are well capable. It is tough at that level but they will keep ticking along no doubt.

“This England side we will be coming up against next week are a dangerous side, we know they are capable of doing things. It’s making sure we take our next step and the next step is England at Twickenham, so that is all we are going to focus on at the moment.”

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