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Last Updated: Monday, 12 February 2007, 10:42 GMT
Ireland will be test - Freshwater
By Mark Orlovac
BBC Sport at Twickenham

Perry Freshwater
Perpignan prop Freshwater will enjoy a rest this weekend
Perry Freshwater says England are looking forward to testing themselves against a side with "no weakness" when they travel to Dublin on 24 February.

"Ireland are extremely strong. There is no real weakness in their side," the Perpignan forward told BBC Sport after the hard-fought 20-7 win over Italy.

"I am really looking forward to going to Dublin, we all are.

"They are going to try to beat us up and we are going to try to beat them up. Let's see what happens on the day."

Ireland suffered a last-minute 20-17 loss to France on an emotional day at Croke Park on Sunday but Freshwater is in no doubt about the size of the task ahead.

"The Ireland players have been together a long time and they have a very good understanding," he added.

There is a momentum building - sometimes you have to win ugly and that is what we did

Perry Freshwater

"They are very tough and immensely fit and their defence is incredible."

The 32-year-old Perpignan prop was part of the forward unit that were given a stern examination by the Italian pack at Twickenham on Saturday.

And the former Leicester player believes that although it was not England's most cultured display, the players can take a lot out of the game.

"We learnt a bit on Saturday," he added.

"This is all about getting England back off the floor and we are managing to win games so that's the most important thing at the moment.

"There is a momentum building and there is a sense of understanding within the side. Sometimes you have to win ugly and that is what we did.

"As a prop I would say that we definitely need to improve our scrummaging and we need to improve on our defensive mauling capabilities.

"But you have to realise that we are still gelling as team, that's only the second game we have played together.

"There are a lot of things we can improve on but we don't have to back to the drawing board."

Freshwater does concede though, that the Italian forwards proved to be a real handful at Twickenham.


"It was very hard but I think it was always going to be, they have a very good pack," he added.

"We felt that we got sucked into a physical confrontation but we knew it would be like that - we had no illusions of grandeur after the win over Scotland.

"We like to be confrontational ourselves, and when fire meets fire it can sometimes end up like that.

"The Italians drove very well off the line-out and their scrum was very difficult for me personally.

"It felt like a very full on French game to me. The Italians rolled the maul very well. They are solid boys and all credit to them."

The Wellington-born prop, who has represented New Zealand under-21s and under-19s, will now travel back to the south of France this week.

But unlike his Premiership-based colleagues, Freshwater is guaranteed a week of rest as there are no games in the French championship this coming weekend.

"We need to go home, we have had a pretty intense two weeks," he said.

"We need to reflect on what we have done - what we've done well and what we can improve on - and we need to start afresh when we assemble again next week.

"My body is OK but it is intense, and not only on the rugby field. You are also thinking a lot about your position, that's international rugby, there are pressures on and off the field."

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