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Why Ireland have all they need to win Grand Slam, writes Trevor Ringland

The former British and Irish Lion gives his view on Saturday's game

By Trevor Ringland

So, can Ireland win only their third ever Grand Slam on Saturday?

I believe they can, but I also think that as Ireland supporters, though we should be confident about winning at Twickenham on St Patrick's Day, we definitely mustn't allow ourselves to be over-confident.

This side certainly has the ability to do it and emulate the recent achievements of 2009, as well as adding to the first ever Slam back in 1948 delivered by the great Jack Kyle and his team-mates.

If this team wins the Slam on Saturday they will carve out another piece of history for Irish rugby and, with three Six Nations titles in the last five years, they will go right up to the top as one of the greatest Irish teams of all time, if not the greatest.

This side has demonstrated huge resources of discipline and attitude which shows that there is certainly a mental toughness in the team, which is all-important if they are going to add the Slam to the Six Nations title.

Look at Johnny Sexton dropping that incredibly dramatic goal against France to win the opening game and the way it was done in injury-time with the team holding onto the ball to set up that long-range opportunity.

That shows that they do have confidence to come through adversity and the assertiveness that is required to win big games.

Ireland also have a strong squad which has shown its ability to deal with players dropping out with injury such as at centre and flanker.

And we shouldn't forget the influence of Rory Best either, who has been a consistent example of leadership over these years of recent success.

For Rory to be on the winning side on Saturday would just be such a lovely moment in a long and distinguished career and a great tribute to his durability after having been part of that Slam side back in 2009.

But absolutely vital to winning this game will be the performances from Sexton and Conor Murray.

I think they are so key to the Irish performance that this actually also makes Ireland vulnerable should anything happen to either of them during the course of the game.

They are towers of strength for the side but if something did happen to either, or both of them, I would still hope that the quality of the rest of the team would be able to cover for that.

And, of course, Joe Schmidt is a wonderful coach who has a tremendous ability to bring out the best in his players.

Ireland play a very controlled game as well which minimises mistakes, and so they have proved very tough to beat, but they can also attack with venom and accuracy.

It's a great credit to Schmidt that they are in this position, but you also have to have the players coming through to make this happen.

The quality of these players is high and young Jacob Stockdale is a key example of that.

Jacob has proved himself at this level, and it's not just him as there is also second-row James Ryan, and Jordan Larmour is coming through too.

Schmidt has demanded levels of performance that have really brought the best out of all the players whether new to the scene or more experienced.

But make no mistake, they can also lose this game. Ireland are facing an England team full of good players who have really not performed in this Championship.

With the power of England's pack I would really hope Iain Henderson is a starter for this game.

Remember Ireland turned them over last year in Dublin when England were going for their own Grand Slam and Eddie Jones' misfiring team will really want to avenge that at Twickenham.

But I don't think Twickenham will be a venue which will intimidate Ireland. After all, there are benefits for Irish teams going there in that there are so many Irish in England that there is usually a tremendous following there.

So, though it's not quite a home game, it can feel quite close to having one, and St Patrick's Day there will also be special.

Winning a Slam is clearly a difficult thing for Irish sides to do as 1948 and 2009 are the only years when this feat has previously been achieved by men in green.

Great players such as Willie John McBride, Mike Gibson and Ollie Campbell never won it.

We came close in 1985 but we drew with France that year and went on to win a second Triple Crown after securing it for the first time since 1949 when we beat all three home nations in 1982.

We actually went to the last game in 1982 having already won our Triple Crown and the Grand Slam was on but we lost badly in Paris.

You could draw an analogy with Saturday as back then it was a French team which came into that game without much form and with just pride to play for. You would be concerned that this kind of backlash could be coming Ireland's way at Twickenham. Hopefully not though.

To potentially win a third Grand Slam now, and in doing so arguably achieve it the harder way with having to win in Paris and Twickenham, would just be tremendous.

The 2009 team had Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll and Ronan O'Gara in it which was such a productive time for Irish rugby. They were players of confidence who could deliver.

But this team is quality too and they have all that is necessary to win the Slam.

Ireland can go and make more history.

- Trevor Ringland made 34 appearances for Ireland, scoring nine tries, in the 1980s. He also represented the British and Irish Lions.

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