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'Fans will be on the edge of their seats'.

JOE Schmidt has pledged Ireland will provide "edge of the seat" entertainment in Saturday's Six Nations opener, dismissing England's boring jibes as irrelevant. England defence coach John Mitchell claimed Ireland will try to "bore the s*** out of us" in cranking up the mind games ahead of the Dublin encounter.

Ireland head coach Schmidt stopped short of accusing England of disrespect, instead once again laughing off what he has previously branded verbal "grenades" from head coach Eddie Jones and his coaching team.

England boss Jones has claimed Johnny Sexton has the "bat phone to the referee" in suggesting Ireland receive preferential treatment from officials: but as when dismissing that, Schmidt has again shrugged off another barb.

"People have different approaches but I think it's incredibly important to respect your opponents, and to acknowledge what abilities they bring to the game," said Schmidt.

"I don't think for a moment that it's going to be boring. I think it's going to be exhilarating, I think it's going to be edge of the seat.

"Because I don't think there's a huge amount between the teams.

"I do think people are going to be entertained.

"And one of the great things about the Aviva Stadium is the entertainment is partially provided by those outside the pitch supporting the team in the manner that they do.

"The support that we got in those last few minutes last time England were here, was huge. It was as loud as I'd heard it since 2013 probably when the All Blacks were here.

"And probably the loudest I've heard since was the All Blacks in November, when those last phases of play until Retallick put that ball down, it was huge.

"The players feed off that excitement, and it's almost reciprocated by the crowd.

"And we know we're going to have a big crowd that they are going to be incredibly supportive, and at the same time respectful of our team and our opponents."

Ireland have Robbie Henshaw at full-back for the start of their Six Nations title defence, with Josh Van Der Flier slotting in at flanker ahead of Sean O'Brien.

When asked if England's leadin comments have lacked enough respect, Schmidt neatly sidestepped the issue, by pledging to address the issue directly with Mitchell, most likely after the match.

"I don't really know everything they've been saying," said Schmidt. I heard the boring comment, I heard the bat phone comment; I don't know what else they've been saying."

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Feb 1, 2019
Words:412
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