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Ireland’s Conor Murray: Winning the Grand Slam would be right up there

Ireland know exactly what is at stake at Twickenham on Saturday, according to the scrum-half.

Ireland have finally lifted the ban on Grand Slam talk, Conor Murray has admitted.

Joe Schmidt’s side swiped a third NatWest 6 Nations title in five years with Saturday’s 28-8 victory over Scotland in Dublin.

Now the Irish could seal just a third-ever clean sweep with a victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday that would spark jubilant St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Taskmaster boss Schmidt famously has his players well-drilled on the party line of remaining next-game focused – but British and Irish Lions scrum-half Murray conceded there is no more avoiding the main issue when that next game is a Grand Slam decider.

“We can start talking about it now, because that’s what’s in front of us if things go well,” said Murray of Ireland’s bid for a Grand Slam to echo the achievements of 1948 and 2009.

“It would be right up there, probably at the top. Only Rob (Kearney) and Rory (Best) are left that have won a slam.

“The motivation is in our group and it’s about how we avoid the distraction of all that and go about our business like we usually do in a match week with something really special to play for.

“It’s not daunting, it’s a massive occasion, but it’s one this group is going to enjoy and relish.

“We do have the ability, it’s just about getting that performance together and trying to nail it as best we can.

“It’s a massive occasion and one a lot of lads haven’t faced into before. But there’s a lot of lads in the group that have played in massive, massive games and know how to go about a big match week.

“There’s a crop of younger players in this group that the older, more experienced players can guide through the week. I wouldn’t have any fears about the younger players, they’re just so good at rugby that it comes so naturally to them.

“If there’s a bit of advice here and there that older lads can give, I’m sure we will. That’s the challenge of a unique week we have.”

Ireland set a new record of 11 consecutive wins with Saturday’s victory over Scotland, leapfrogging England into second place in the World Rugby rankings.

England’s back-to-back defeats to Scotland and France now leave Eddie Jones’ side staring down the barrel of their worst Six Nations since 2006.

England could even finish as low as fifth in the table should Ireland complete the Grand Slam – but British and Irish Lions star Murray insisted Schmidt’s side still expect a ferocious English performance this weekend.

“They’ve had a couple of tough games but they’re still the same side which won a slam and another championship back-to-back,” said Murray, of England.

“So that’s the same thing as us losing a game here or there, a couple of things not going right, but we still believe we’re good enough and we would be. England are going to be no different. They’re going to be coming home, they’re going to have a lot to play for, a lot of pride as well, they’re full of world-class players.

“I wouldn’t get fooled by the fact they’ve lost a couple of games. I still think they’re a really, really good side that can be very dangerous.

“I don’t think we’ll fall into that trap, definitely not. I think we’ve enough knowledge about them and experience to deal with that.”

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