England coach Eddie Jones has labelled Ireland the best rugby side in the world, after his Six Nations squad announcement in London on Friday (NZ time).
Even though the world rankings still have the All Blacks on top, Ireland recorded their first-ever home victory over the three-time World Cup winners in Dublin last November.
The loss came a week after Jones' side came close to beating the All Blacks in London. Flanker Sam Underhill scored what looked like the match-winning try in the final 10 minutes, but it was disallowed, after Courtney Lawes was ruled offside at the breakdown. The All Blacks held onto win 16-15.
England face Ireland in their Six Nations opener on February 3 (NZ time) in Dublin and Jones will take a 35-strong squad to Portugal for a training camp to help prepare for the tournament.
"Ireland are the best side in the world," said Jones. "They are a very well-coached and drilled side, and have particular things they do well in the game."
"To beat Ireland, we need to compete brutally in all the contest areas of the game."
Ireland beat England en route to their Grand Slam Six Nations series sweep in 2018. On top of that, they've beaten England in three of their last five encounters, while the Red Roses' last win in Ireland was in a 2011 World Cup warm-up fixture.
Jones left New Zealand born co-captain Dylan Hartley out of the squad, due to a knee injury, which means playmaker Owen Farrell will skipper the team.
Hartley is expected to be back before the end of the tournament.
"We have taken a completely different approach to the camp this time," Jones added.
"We are specifically focusing on the Ireland game, so we are taking players we believe will be available to play against Ireland, so we are not taking any longer-term rehab players.
"Unfortunately, Dylan won’t be available for the Ireland game, so we won’t take him to Portugal, but we are hopeful he will be back later in the championship.
"Owen will be captain by himself and he will certainly have great support from a number of senior players."