England are under huge pressure heading into what Lewis Moody has described as a “must-win game” against Ireland in the Six Nations.
Eddie Jones’ side were lacklustre in a shock loss to France before getting their campaign up and running by beating Scotland in torrid conditions at Murrayfield.
The Rugby World Cup runners-up welcome Andy Farrell’s Ireland to Twickenham on Sunday and former England flanker Moody believes the onus is on the hosts to get a result.
Speaking to Omnisport ahead of the England v Ireland Rugby Legends Charity Match at Twickenham Stoop on Saturday, Moody said: “Without a shadow of a doubt we all expected England to drive on after the World Cup. They faltered in the first game, the Scotland game allowed us to see they can knuckle out a victory in diabolical conditions.
“All being the well the weather conditions will be favourable this weekend and we can really see where England are at.
“Ireland will come with confidence from the first two matches, they have the energy and enthusiasm of having a new coaching staff.
“For England it’s a must-win game, because otherwise all of a sudden you’re going into your fourth game having lost two, only just won one and staring down the barrel of a seriously disappointing Six Nations, which they started with big expectations.
“Without a shadow of a doubt there is a lot of pressure on this England side and coaching staff, which there always is, but we need to see them crack on and Eddie take them forward.”
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 20, 2020
Moody, who made 71 appearances for his country and was part of the 2003 World Cup-winning squad, feels England – who won in Dublin last year – are slight underdogs for this weekend’s match against an Ireland side who received a visit from U2 frontman Bono this week.
“I have to admit I’m not overly confident, I even think Ireland will come in as slight favourites,” he said.
“England have not really fired so far in the Six Nations, they had that really disappointing start in France, they got what they needed in Murrayfield – which is a very difficult place to go and win.
“To knock out a win in those unbelievably horrific weather conditions was impressive, but this is the true test, this is the game that matters. They [Ireland] have a very well-organised side, with a new coach who seems to be instilling some real belief and I’m sure they’ve got a slight degree of vengeance from last year’s upset at home to inspire them.”
While England still have not found what they are looking for in this year’s Six Nations, Ireland’s desire to win may have been boosted by the presence of Irish singer-songwriter Bono at the team hotel.
Moody does not know exactly how the away side will benefit from that experience, but he suggested some song lyrics might provide some inspiration.
He said: “I’m not sure what motivation that will provide, but it’ll be interesting for sure. Perhaps there may be a few of his lyrics quoted beforehand, but I’m not so sure what impact that might have.”
– The England v Ireland Rugby Legends Charity Match will take place at Twickenham Stoop on February 22, kick-off 17.30 and will be raising money for Restart Rugby, RFU Injured Players Fund and the Tom Smith Testimonial Committee. Visit http://tickets.quins.co.uk for tickets and more information.
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