Back and Greenwood tipping Ireland for Six Nations glory

Neil Back and Will Greenwood

Ireland are in pole position to claim the Six Nations title, according to legendary England World Cup winners Neil Back and Will Greenwood.

Eddie Jones' side have won each of the last two editions - winning all five matches in 2016 before a defeat to Ireland in last year's final fixture denied them another unblemished record.

That reverse marked the second time in seven years that England fell at the last hurdle of their Grand Slam quest away in Dublin, and the two favourites are scheduled to meet again in 2018's concluding round - this time on English soil.

Back and Greenwood were key cogs in England's all-conquering 2003 vintage which secured Grand Slam and World Cup glory under Clive Woodward, and the former predicts Joe Schmidt's men will come out on top, although he does not expect any side to complete a perfect campaign.

"I think England are definitely the team to beat, but a good compass as to where teams are is the Champions Cup," Back told Omnisport.

"The English teams haven't done particularly well - only Saracens have got through. I think if we get to that final game, Ireland might pip us.

"I don't think anyone will win the Grand Slam - it is England's to lose but I think Ireland are the threat. Looking at the fixtures, I think it could go down to that final game. With the Irish teams' form in the Champions Cup, I think they might just do us.

"All things considered, with the run of fixtures as they are and the injury situations with the respective squads going into the tournament, potentially Ireland might just nick it on points difference - let's make them feel good about themselves and they might get a bit complacent!"

Former centre Greenwood, meanwhile, believes Ireland's favourable fixture list could prove decisive.

"I have backed Ireland to win it. They have a good run of home games in the middle - Italy, Wales and Scotland - and I expect them to arrive at Twickenham with a good points difference," he told Omnisport.

"I think England will beat them, but somewhere along the line I can see England falling over. I'm not sure where, on an individual basis I would back England in all of them, I just get this feeling they may slip up somewhere.

"You analyse all the teams and consider who are the most likely to go to the final round with the best record, I think you'd have to be the most one-eyed Welshman and tartan-wearing Scotsman to say it would be them.

"The fair assumption [going] by those pesky bookmakers, who vary rarely get things wrong, would be that come the final weekend it would tend to be a team in green or white that would lift the trophy."

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