Ireland must refuse to engage in Eddie Jones’ phoney war ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations clash at Twickenham, according to forwards coach Simon Easterby.
New England boss Jones likened Ireland’s approach to the tactics once employed Stoke City, claiming Joe Schmidt’s men kick possession away “60 per cent of the time”.
Ireland boss Schmidt was quick to reject his England counterpart Jones’ barbs, branding the former Wallabies coach’s statistics inaccurate.
Now forwards coach Easterby has warned the Ireland squad not to allow themselves to be distracted by a war of words.
“Someone like Eddie is going to throw things out there, throw some comments out there, and that’s great,” said Easterby.
“We’ll take that and bat it off. We’ve got to focus on what we’re doing.
“I think there’s a temptation to be drawn into something there with what he has to say, about any team, whether it’s us or any team that he’s coaching against.”
Ireland will chase their first win at Twickenham since 2010 this weekend, with the reigning double Six Nations champions without a victory in the competition’s opening two rounds.
Schmidt’s men will pitch up in London under pressure from their draw with Wales and defeat in France, and also battling a raft of injuries.
Schmidt had been keen to set the record straight after Jones’ jibe that Ireland play safety-first rugby, insisting “Ireland have kicked less than a quarter of the possession we have had, which doesn’t correspond with the statistics which have been reported”.
England boss Jones has now twice cited Stoke City when referring to a limited gameplan. Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross took to the club’s official match programme after Jones’ first reference, calling on the England boss to “stick to what you know”.
Easterby however is keen for Ireland to ignore the barbs from England’s new boss, who has already freely admitted he will chase any available edge, including via mind games.
“We’ve just got to focus on what we’re doing and not get drawn into too much of what he’s talking about,” said Easterby.
“It is what it is. Characters like that are good for the game, and we’ll see come Saturday night how much of that rings true.”