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Six Nations: Eddie Jones' comments won't burst Ireland's preparation bubble, insists Schmidt

By Gareth Hanna

Ireland's focus on winning a game of rugby on Saturday afternoon will not be undermined by anything - from a sense of occasion to some ill-advised, historic comments.

That was coach Joe Schmidt's insistance during Thursday's press conference to look ahead to the match against England on Saturday afternoon.

A victory, of course, would land Ireland's third-ever Grand Slam. Any nerves that may understandably accompany such a potentially historic occasion, though, are being kept at bay, according to Schmidt.

So too, he says, is any hint of distraction caused by the furore surrounding England coach Eddie Jones' less than complimentary comments about the Irish, made at a corporate event last year but dragged into the media this week, leading to an apology.

"I'm not exactly sure what they were," said Schmidt of the comments. "I know there's a lot of noise about them but they're not directly relevant to us. Those words don't impact on how we play or how his team play and that's our focus.

"I know it's probably at the stage of being boring, which we don't want to be described as but the bubble that surrounds us here means we can focus on the job at hand, not what somebody is saying about us.

"The focus is on this week and the actual performance. We haven't talked about how we might feel afterwards or what it means because you almost don't dare to dream about what it might mean or what the occasion may mean.

"A number of our players have been to Twickenham and know how raucous it is. 80,000 people make a lot of noise but what we do know is there is going to be a good number of Irish supporters there and we're going to get some really good support.

"That will spur us on. That's what we're focused on - what we can manage on the pitch, how spurred we will be by the environment but not distracted by it."

Even if Ireland don't want to be known as a boring side - and there's little hint of that with 136 points scored in four Championship games so far - Schmidt admits they wouldn't be adverse to a less than enthralling victory this weekend.

"I don't think any of the team would care if it was 3-0," he said. "I don't think we would be uninspired. We know what's at stake and it's a fantastic opportunity to not just achieve a Grand Slam but to go a year unbeaten. We wouldn't have dreamed of that this time last year."

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