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Eddie Jones insists belief in his project has not been shaken as he prepares to face already-crowned Six Nations champions Ireland this Saturday.

Ireland have delivered but England have not held up their end of the bargain.

Just 80 minutes of action now stand between Ireland and a third Grand Slam achievement. It's actually an essential part of developing a great team.

"I always said this year would be the hardest year we'd have". They have gone unbeaten, winning 11 consecutive Test matches, a feat never matched by an Irish team before.

"I liked the look of them at the start of the year".

"We've got to learn, we've got to improve. A lot of the things we've trained for, or thought would happen have happened", he said. That something was probably in the back of our mind. "We just got a bit luckier last weekend I think". Got lucky as well in a few games. "It's a great achievement for this group and hopefully we can push on from there".

In the four games so far, Ireland have averaged 66% possession - 62% against Scotland, 69% against Wales, 63% against Italy and 68% against France. Yet, Stander has total faith in the structures employed by defence coach Andy Farrell, which ensured that the Scots only had a single five-pointer courtesy of winger Blair Kinghorn.


"No, not at all", said Jones when asked did he lack belief in his players. He's a very passionate man. The only game which was within a score was France and that, of course, was won by that late drop-goal from Johnny Sexton, the significance of which I will outline a little bit later. "We will have to go to another level to beat England".

Stander delivered a typically assertive performance in a back row that also included Peter O'Mahony and Dan Leavy, who is growing in confidence every time he pulls on an Irish jersey.

"I don't think this spell was inevitable, but I think it's normal".

They like to have the ball and their game plan revolves around moving the opposition around the pitch, varying the point of attack to inevitably tire the opposition out which will increase the likelihood of scoring points, either through opposition indiscipline or poor defending.

"They're big, they're athletic and they're skilful and they've got a number of people out (injured) so they're only going to get better".

"On the other side, there's always something with every team, you never play the flawless game, maybe you're trying to do that so there's always fixes - definitely with this group, with the experience, the new guys coming in, the younger generation that have added so much, there's something there, there's another level that we're striving towards". "They did that job perfectly". Nevertheless, he has seen enough of the New Zealand native to know that he demands the very best from each player he selects. He's a guy that asks you to pay attention to everything you do and make sure you're fully prepared for the game.


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