Hungry England eager to raise the bar - Farrell

Owen Farrell said England are "unbelievably hungry" to retain their Six Nations title and hit new heights under Eddie Jones.

The holders are favourites to win the tournament for a third successive year ahead of their opening game against Italy in Rome on Sunday.

Ireland denied England back-to-back Grand Slams in Dublin last March and the two sides will meet in a potential decider at Twickenham on St Patrick's Day.

Farrell says the defending champions are raring to go as they attempt to maintain their momentum with a World Cup to come in Japan next year.

The versatile British and Irish Lion told Omnisport: "Our focus is completely on Italy. The first game is the most important.

"We need to make sure we prepare as best we can for that. I suppose our motivation is that we're unbelievably hungry to perform well this year, to go after every team that's in front of us."

Asked about lessons learned from missing out on another Grand Slam last year, Farrell added: "[It will be] No different to what we've been doing, we just need to make sure we keep getting better. Keep improving. Keep staying hungry to kick on."

Full-back Mike Brown says England will not be taking perennial strugglers Italy lightly at Stadio Olimpico this weekend.

"They'll be physical, they'll have a lot of passion. Especially at home, first game of the tournament." said Brown.

"A lot of people are writing them off and doubting they should be in the tournament, so they'll want to throw that back in people's faces. They have not beaten us in the tournament until now, so they'll be desperate to do that. So we have to turn up with the right mindset and the right game plan to make sure we get the win."

Centre Ben Te'o does not think Ireland are the only team capable of dethroning England.

"I think that they're [Ireland] a great team playing with some good form for their provinces." said Te'o. "There are a lot of other teams that are tough.

"The French are tough, the Welsh. So I think it's quite an open competition."


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