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Sunday 17 December 2017

Murray breaks it down for Ireland as he looks for first win against England

Let Conor Murray break it down for you.

"So far, England seem to be the team to beat," he said.

And the reason is right there where Murray does most of his work.

"The break-down is what wins games," he highlighted.

"They have a huge pack that is really dominating teams at the breakdown offensively and defensively.

"Winning those collisions and trying to put them under pressure when they have the ball with our own defence."

England are a side that thrive on stopping the momentum of the opposition. That emanates from their size and power and athleticism.

Murray has first-hand experience from last year where space came at a premium price.

"They just seemed really hard to break down. They seemed to keep a lot of men on their feet when you have the ball.

"They attack your breakdown. They can slow it down and make things really difficult for you. That's a challenge for us," he said.

Ireland have been able to churn out wins away to Italy and at home to France, predominantly based on the strength of their defence and a kicking game.

Joe Schmidt came into the national role as an attack-minded coach. He has had to trim his cloth to expose weaknesses in all enemies.

"When we have possession and create that quick ruck-speed we can play on the front foot which is what makes any team dangerous," said Murray.

The return of Sean O'Brien and Cian Healy, the improvement of Devin Toner and the emergence of Iain Henderson have given Ireland ballast.

"When you're put on the back foot and things are slowed down, you're forced into a bit more kicking and things become quite difficult.

"Defensively, they come off their line and make their hits and they muddy the ruck and make things really hard to play off."

Murray sees England as "a step up" from the brutality of France.

"They have this attacking flair now with the likes of Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson, Mike Brown if he's passed fit.

"That's a really dangerous group of players with a nine and ten like Ben Youngs and George Ford who can be a real handful as well if they get their stamp on the game.

"So they do have that dimension to them too."

All the while, the quick men can't play without quick ball unless they gorge on turnovers from mistakes.

"In terms of playing, that comes from inside, the breakdown and making that quick ball and then maybe attacking the wider channels, that's when we'll get our reward."

It all comes back to the breakdown.

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