Eddie Jones: "Everyone's talking about the Ireland game - it's not a concern for us"

Ireland welcome England to Dublin in the last match of the 2017 6 Nations

Eddie Jones, England

Picture by: Andrew Matthews / PA Wire/Press Association Images

England coach Eddie Jones has apparently dismissed Ireland's chances ahead of the this year's 6 Nations Championship and instead put the emphasis on France as their biggest challengers.

Speaking to the media ahead of the tournament he said: "If you read the media, players are talking about the Lions, about the tour, how they want to be a Lion. It's a massive attraction but can be a massive distraction.

"There is a danger that they focus on the future rather than the now.

"So we've got a lot of distractions in front of us and part of our job as staff and the senior players at the start of the camp in Portugal is to make sure that we get the focus right, and that's beating France."

"Guy Noves has got the team going in the right direction, you can see they're enjoying the game more.

"They've got that 'joie de vivre' back in their game. They've picked a big physical squad, they've got exceptionally gifted back rowers and those two Fijian wingers.

"They should have beaten Australia and took New Zealand to the wire in November. They're really starting to get their game together," he added.

England are due to play Ireland on the final weekend of the tournament but Jones has played down the clash saying: "Everyone's talking about the Ireland game. It's not a concern for us, but if you keep hearing that it can get in your head." 

Ireland's Conor Murray celebrates Robbie Henshaw's try. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

England and Ireland are the two top ranked northern hemisphere sides heading into the tournament. England enjoyed a memorable 2016 winning 13 matches in a row, including the 2016 6 Nations Grand Slam.

Ireland beat all three southern hemisphere powerhouses including a memorable win over New Zealand in Chicago.

The 6 Nations begins on the 4th February.