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Six Nations: 'England are bad losers'

By Duncan Bech

Stephen Ferris has accused England of being "bad losers" as Ireland prepare to launch their assault on Twickenham.

Losing has become a habit in the fixture for the reigning RBS 6 Nations champions, who have tasted defeat in seven of their past eight championship meetings.

Ireland have also triumphed on three of their previous four trips to Twickenham and Ferris, the destructive Ulster flanker, hopes that sequence improves this weekend.

"If you ask any team who do they like beating and it's always the English. Why? It's something I can't really put my finger on!" he said.

"We took so many beatings from England at under-age level. Any time we played under-18s, 19s or 20s we always received a thumping. I never beat them.

"They come with a bit of a tag about being arrogant and if you asked any team they'd probably say the same thing.

"They're a good side and are full of winners, but when they lose they don't like it.

"They're bad losers and hopefully they'll be bad losers on Saturday."

Ferris' Ulster team-mate Rory Best, who will lead the side once again in the injury-enforced absence of Paul O'Connell, insists Ireland's superiority explains their impressive record against England.

"They've always been tough, close games but this Ireland side have been very good over the last 10 years and that's why we've edged it," he said.

"England are on a high but we're going well as well. It will be mentally challenging. Whoever can start the best will win the game."

The match falls on St Patrick's Day and while Best acknowledged such an occasion can be motivational, he warned of the perils of becoming too wound up.

"A little bit of emotion in international rugby does no harm as long as it doesn't consume you," he said.

"Emotion allows you to go to places that your body didn't think you could and you need that to win internationals away from home.

"But we have to make sure we have clear heads so that we can execute our gameplan."

Leinster's Sean O'Brien will start against England despite having spent last week in hospital recovering from a skin infection on his foot.

Munster openside Peter O'Mahony, who impressed on his full debut in Saturday's 32-14 rout of Scotland, drops to the bench to make room for the 25-year-old.

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