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Strength of squad key for Ireland game, says U20 captain Clifford

07 February 2013

  • Jack Clifford confident of England's strength against Ireland
  • U20 captain is relishing opportunity to play away from home
Clifford attacks the Scottish defence

Photo Credit: Getty Images

England Under 20 captain Jack Clifford believes that the squad’s strength in depth could be a key factor when they take on Ireland in Athlone on Friday and continue their quest for a third consecutive Six Nations crown.

The 19-year-old back row captained England to a 15-6 win over Scotland in the opening fixture of this year’s tournament and will again wear the captain’s armband against the Irish.

It will be the fourth match up in twelve months for the two sides, with England having played Ireland twice in the IRB Junior World Championship and last year’s Six Nations. Head Coach Rob Hunter has made four changes ahead of the clash and Clifford is confident that England’s squad depth will come into play on Friday.

“It shows strength in our team and also the depth we have that these players can come in and step up,” said Clifford. “Everyone in this squad is excellent rugby players so I have got no question of the people coming in. Everyone knows that they are good players and obviously the fact that there are so few changes shows how well we performed last week.

“Ireland are a good outfit, very physical and a good rugby team. We have played them four times so we know what they are like. Two wins and a loss (in last three meetings) means they are a side you cannot underestimate.”

The game against Ireland is set to be a crucial fixture in this year’s Six Nations and Clifford says that playing away against tough opposition is a challenge he relishes.

“We are really focused on ourselves and keeping our heads switched on to how we are going to play,” said Clifford. “I personally like playing against partisan crowds. It gets me really up for games so I really enjoy it. It’s going to be a really good challenge.”

Keep up to date with the game on the RFU’s Twitter feed, @Official_RFU, kick off 7.35pm in Athlone, Ireland.