Published: Thu, March 16, 2017
Sport | By Stephen Hansen

Larissa Muldoon in from the start as Ireland Women seek Grand Slam

Larissa Muldoon in from the start as Ireland Women seek Grand Slam

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has heaped praise on Eddie Jones after the Australian guided his England team to 18 unbeaten games - equalling New Zealand's world record.

A win at Lansdowne Road would also see England surpass New Zealand's 18-match winning streak, which started in August 2015 and included Hansen's team lifting the Rugby World Cup, before Ireland achieved their first-ever victory over the All Blacks with a dramatic 40-29 success in Chicago last November.

New Zealand's head coach was complimentary about England following their 61-21 win against Scotland, suggesting they looked fitter and more motivated than they had done previously.

The Ireland's women team to play England in Friday's RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam showdown shows one change from the side that defeated Wales last weekend. They scored crucial tries in the last 20 minutes against Wales and Scotland to seal victory and held off France very well towards the end too.

A 19th consecutive win and back-to-back Grand Slams beckon for England who have already wrapped up the 2017 Six Nations title.

"They're playing very very well, aren't they?" While Schmidt's men certainly have a fine degree of consistency in performance, Jones has managed to ensure England have had the results to go along the same consistent standard.

"Ireland aren't that different to England, they have threats all over the field".

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The final round of the Six Nations will have a major say in how the 2019 Rugby World Cup is formed, given it is the last chance for any movement in World Rugby's rankings before the draw take place in two months' time.

"We expect Ireland to be like that".

Ireland's relative continuity in selection is highlighted by the fact that props Lindsay Peat and Ailis Egan join Leah Lyons in the front row for the fifth successive game.

"What we said is that we have to acknowledge we've been successful and it's now about how much we want to be great", Jones added of the meeting in Oxford.

But in the age of professionalism, everything is about the next game - which is perfectly understandable when that game is a grand slam decider. "We don't get many touring teams that come here any more". It's a childhood dream. Cope with that, and England may well write a new chapter under Jones as they secure the rarest of northern hemisphere feats: elusive back-to-back Grand Slams.

"Being the All Blacks coach, I would like to think we would", he said.

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