By Damian Dolan.
There was a time when Ireland teams travelled to Twickenham more in hope than expectation, and slim hope at that. Aside from isolated moments of magic, a respectable beating was the best Ireland could hope for.
But the Twickenham fear factor has long since gone – eroded slowly over the past ten years – and while Stuart Lancaster has England moving in the right direction, for former Ireland international Shane Byrne, it’s Joe Schmidt who holds the aces this time around.
The former Leinster mastermind is working similar magic with Ireland, although not yet with a style of play similar to which guided Leinster to Heineken Cup glory, but with the careful and methodical planning to send his team out to implement whatever game plan Schmidt deems will win the game.
The same will be the case on Saturday, but just what he’ll conjure from his bag of tricks is a mystery, and there in, for Byrne, lies the brilliance of Schmidt.
“He will definitely have some sort of ace up his sleeve that he spotted in analysis – there’s not going to be one set pattern,” said Bryne, who was capped 41 times by Ireland between 2001-2005 and toured New Zealand with the British & Irish Lions in 2005.
For more see this week’s edition of the Irish World