Ireland’s Devin Toner is looking forward to facing England at Twickenham
Devin Toner says record-breaking Ireland’s confidence is “at an all-time high” ahead of Saturday’s Grand Slam decider against England at Twickenham.
Ireland claimed a record 11th consecutive win with last weekend’s 28-8 victory over Scotland that secured a third Six Nations title in five years.
Now Joe Schmidt’s men will chase just a third Grand Slam in Saturday’s final-weekend showdown with England at Twickenham.
A first victory away to England since 2010 would spark joyous St Patrick’s Day celebrations, and Leinster lock Toner believes Ireland head to London with massive confidence to pull off a stunning triumph.
“Confidence is at an all-time high, it’s big within the squad,” said Toner.
“Getting those 11 wins in a row, it’s huge. It definitely boosts the feeling.
“And to claim another win now would be huge for the squad, absolutely huge.
“Everyone knows it. But we also know what a huge challenge it is.
“England have a proud record at Twickenham, it’s a vocal crowd and a cauldron atmosphere definitely awaits.
“We’re obviously aware of how tough it will be but it would be a huge feather in the cap for us as well.”
Leinster stalwart Toner has faced his strongest competition for a starting Ireland shirt under boss Schmidt this term, with the rapid emergence of lock prodigy James Ryan.
James Ryan (pictured) is challenging Toner for a place in the starting line-up against England
The 21-year-old Leinster youngster has finally shaken off a clutch of niggling injuries to step into Ireland’s starting ranks – and has immediately excelled.
Toner recently admitted he shed nine kilograms in the summer in a bid to boost his impact around the field under pressure from the likes of Ryan and Ulster’s Iain Henderson – and he now feels his form is peaking once again.
“I think I’m playing some of the best rugby I’ve played in a while and that’s due to the competition this year,” said the 57-cap second row.
“We’re all quite interchangeable, Joe (Schmidt) has done his best to build that into the squad, so anyone he puts in can do a job.
“When you look at someone like James Ryan, when you have a talent like that it’s hard not to play him. Iain Henderson as well has been brilliant.
“Hopefully I put my hand up for selection last week, but we’ll see how it goes.”