Stringer relishing England clash

Ireland will need little or no motivating for Saturday's Six Nations finale at Twickenham, according to Peter Stringer. [more]

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Ireland will need little or no motivating for Saturday’s Six Nations finale at Twickenham, according to Peter Stringer.

A third successive Irish victory over England will clinch their second Triple Crown in three years and, with help from Wales, could bring them their first outright championship since 1985.

But scrum-half Stringer insists that simply playing England is incentive enough on its own, especially on St Patrick’s Day weekend.

"It’s always a massive occasion and it’s teed up this time with a Triple Crown at stake," he said.

"Because they are one of the top sides in the world and we have a great respect for them as a rugby nation, it is much sweeter to pull off a victory against them, especially at Twickenham.

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"It’s Paddy’s weekend so there are certainly going to be a lot of Irish supporters over there. It’s set up nicely, this is what you play rugby for."

Twickenham no longer holds any fear for Ireland after their triumph there two years ago and Stringer believes the consistently impressive performances of Munster and Leinster in the European Cup have removed once and for all any inferiority complex.

"The guys are playing at a high level of competition every week in the build-up to the RBS 6 Nations against French and English teams who are at the top of their respective leagues," he said.

"It gives you confidence that you can go to these places and come away with victories.

"That victory for us at Twickenham two years ago was massive. We fully believed we could win there and the nucleus of the side is still there."

Stringer will win his 66th cap on Saturday as part of an Irish back line boasting no fewer than 293 international appearances.

But captain Brian O’Driscoll singles out the team’s trio of newcomers for particular praise.

Hooker Jerry Flannery, virtually unknown at the start of the season, his Munster team-mate Denis Leamy and Ulster wing Andrew Trimble have all seized their opportunities as part of coach Eddie O’Sullivan’s re-building process.

"They have been the star performers week-in, week-out," said British & Irish Lions skipper O’Driscoll. "Jerry has been fantastic, Denis had an awesome game last weekend and is getting better with each game and Andrew has taken his chance really well.

"It’s fantastic that new guys are showing the way for some of the older heads."

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