The RBS 6 Nations moves into Round 3 this week with everything still to play, and a historically crucial match is upon us.
Ireland travel to Twickenham to face a resurgent England, and hooker Sean Cronin expects a tough time awaits his countrymen on Saturday. “Like every 6 Nations game, it’s going to be a huge challenge facing England at (their) home. The games don’t get any easier and Twickenham for any team is daunting” Cronin said.
So who, given that Ireland are 2-time reigning champions, are his team to be considered favourites for the game? “Twickenham is a great stadium. With home field advantage I’m sure they’ll be tipped as favourites.” Cronin continued.
Cronin is familiar with England captain and fellow hooker Dylan Hartley. Hartley’s England reign has begun with consecutive victories, so what are Cronin’s memories of playing against the Northampton man? “He’s a tough competitor on the pitch, from his lineout throwing to his scrummaging and his work at the breakdown to his leadership - his game is well rounded in all aspects.”
Rewinding two weeks, Ireland lost a brutal game in Paris against France. The atmosphere reached fever pitch as the rugby became more and more physical. “The boys fronted up but it was disappointing to come away from the French game on the wrong side of the result” continued Cronin.
And what of the treatment dished out to Ireland’s talisman Jonny Sexton? Did France cross the line? “Gamesmanship is part and parcel of the game these days. Jonny is a hugely experienced world class player that any team will look to target. He’s well used to it!” Cronin said.
There is a pretty big hole in the Ireland squad since Rugby World Cup 2015. That hole belongs to Paul O’Connell. Cronin says that life without the big man is taking some getting used to. “It’s been weird without Paul. He was a good friend of mine. We’re both from Limerick and went to the same school. Granted he was a good few years ahead (of me)!
After the dust has settled on the weekend’s action, we’ll be much closer to knowing who will be lifting the trophy on March 19th. Ireland may not be favourites to do so now, but Cronin and co will be aiming for a win at HQ to get the defence of the their crown back on track.
Sean Cronin’s Quick Ones:
Outside of Ireland which is your favourite Stadium (and City!) to visit?
Cardiff Principality (Millennium) Stadium
If you could pick one player from the 6 Nations to join the Irish squad who would it be?
If you could play with one player from history who would it be?
Of all the hookers in world rugby, who would win a 100 metre footrace?
I'd win of course!
Pick one player from the Ireland squad to spend a year on a desert island with. Show your workings.
Jack McGrath....he's the closest thing to a cave man
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