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The 'pretty exceptional' Ireland player Tom Curry is bracing for

By PA
Eddie Jones, the England head coach, talks to Tom Curry (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Tom Curry admits there is no margin for error as England enter the decisive phase of their Guinness Six Nations title quest.

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Ireland visit Twickenham on Saturday before the tournament is completed by a clash with the only other side in contention for Wales’ crown – favourites France, who must be faced in Paris.

Eddie Jones has adopted a siege mentality, claiming that even a barista in a coffee shop told him England had no chance of defeating Andy Farrell’s men, but bookmakers see the visitors as only marginal favourites.

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Back in the Game – RFU
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And with his head coach billing the match as a semi-final, openside flanker Curry knows that round four is do or die.

“We have to win this one and then we have to win the next one to be in with a shot of winning the championship,” Curry said.

“We know the set-up of the tournament. France away is a big finish, but our focus is firmly on Ireland and how we want to win. If we don’t get this game right, nothing else falls into place.

“We are looking to put in a good performance, as always, but there is a real build of excitement, especially as this tournament progresses.

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“It’s because of the way we have been training, how tight everyone has been getting. Hopefully it all goes out there in terms of 80 minutes on Saturday.”

England’s preparations were dealt a double blow on the eve of the match as lock Maro Itoje became a doubt because of illness and forwards coach Richard Cockerill tested positive for Covid.

Itoje’s availability hinges on how he recovers overnight with Joe Launchbury on standby to partner Charlie Ewels in the second row and either Nick Isiekwe or Ollie Chessum stepping up to the bench.

Cockerill has begun self-isolating and will not be present at Twickenham to oversee the pack, so his fellow forwards coach Matt Proudfoot will perform his matchday duties.

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Curry, who deputised for Courtney Lawes as captain in the first two rounds, insists this type of disruption is taken in England’s stride.

“It’s normal now isn’t it? As a team we’re probably the best prepared in terms of abnormal things like that happening,” Curry said.

“We grow from that, people stepping in, stepping up, and taking control of those situations.

“We’re developing that resilience, whether that’s practising different combinations, or being more player-driven with line-outs or set-plays. It all feeds into the ability to be resilient.”

England are expecting the usual breakdown onslaught on Saturday and in his Lions team-mate Tadhg Beirne, Ireland possess a master of his craft despite his height.

“Beirne is probably the most different because of how tall he is and how effective he is around the breakdown,” Curry said.

“He is able to get his arms in and also keep his body height, which is pretty exceptional for someone of that nature. He is a brilliant operator.

“It’s going to be a huge contest for us because it is something at international rugby you have to get right otherwise you struggle to get momentum.”

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