Sam Simmonds insists Six Nations Grand Slam hurt will drive England vs. Ireland


Sam Simmonds insists England’s Six Nations Grand Slam disappointment last year will act as motivation to ruin Ireland’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Joe Schmidt’s men have already relieved Saturday’s opponents at Twickenham of the Six Nations crown and are one victory away from claiming the ultimate prize in northern hemisphere rugby.

Twelve months ago England stood on the brink of similar acclaim only to succumb 13-9 in Dublin, their title victory marred by the knowledge they had fallen at the final hurdle.

Simmonds had yet to make his debut when the rivals clashed in 2017 but the Exeter number eight has detected a thirst for revenge even if Eddie Jones regards the emotion as a poor motivator.

“There are boys here who are experienced and have played good Ireland teams in the past,” Simmonds said. “Looking back on last year and losing in Ireland, that will be an incentive to push on this weekend.

“If we perform well we know results do come from that. Hopefully we put on a good performance for the Twickenham crowd.”

England’s pursuit of an unprecedented hat trick of titles has ended with successive defeats to Scotland and France and if their losing run is extended to three games, it will be their worst Six Nations performance since 2006.

“We have a job to do because to owe ourself and our fans. We want to keep our record going and be the dominant force and put our game on this Irish side,” Simmonds said. “We are not happy with performances and results of the last couple of weeks, but it’s a huge game against Ireland and we are all pushing in the right direction.

England’s breakdown shortcomings have been exposed to devastating effect over the last two rounds with Jones warning it might not be until next year’s World Cup before team are comfortable in this area.

Simmonds, 23, is set to start at number eight against Ireland after Nathan Hughes was ruled out by a knee injury and the Devonian will have a key role to play in fixing the problem.

“It’s frustrating, but it can only be improved by us. We know we have to be better at it and that comes with your speed into the breakdown,” Simmonds said.

“We have talked about pushing more players towards it, but it’s also an individual thing with your mindset and physicality about how fast you get to those areas to remove and almost stop the threat.

“We put a massive emphasis to stop that threat. You have to be there in a split second or you lose the ball. It’s frustrating losing the ball and turnovers do happen. There are mistakes, it is just how you react from that.”

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