John Hayes expects huge English challenge

John Hayes - England's 'huge' pack will make it tough for Ireland
John Hayes - England's 'huge' pack will make it tough for Ireland

John Hayes will win his 100th cap when he lines out against England on Saturday and he is expecting a very physical challenge against a huge England pack.

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The Cappamore man expects England to base their gameplan on their big forwards, with the scrum and maul two of the key areas for Martin Johnson's team.

As Ireland's tighthead and the cornerstone of the tight five, Hayes is responsible for making sure England don't establish that solid foundation.

He told RTÉ Sport's Michael Corcoran: 'From a forward's point of view, they always have a huge pack with a huge maul and a huge scrum. It all starts up there. That's where they want to start the game.'

Ireland's scrum came in for criticism after the defeat in Paris and both Tom Court and Leo Cullen have moved in the wake of the Paris defeat after struggling to hold on the loosehead side in the 24th minute scrum series that rocked Ireland after a good start.

But like the rest of the Ireland squad, Hayes agreed that Ireland had not been too far away from a good performance.

He said: 'They scored two tries in the first half but we had been playing rugby with them. Two things happen and they score two tries. When you are playing big teams like France, if you make the mistake they'll score.'

Inevitably, much of the focus this week has been on Hayes reaching the 100 cap milestone. But the famously shy 'Bull' has no intention of quitting any time soon.

He added: 'I'm still enjoying it and I always said if I was still enjoying it and still injury free I would keep going for as long as I can. I love doing it. It's a great thing to be able to do: to play for your country. As long as I'm wanted and still enjoy it I'll stay playing.'

The secret of Hayes' - a late starter at the game - longevity is a combination of good care from the IRFU and an ability to switch off.

Hayes said: 'The game is very physical and you can't burn the candle at both ends so you have to look after yourself off the pitch. It's all in place for us now. The recovery and the way we're looked after with nutrition helps.

But getting home to Bruff as often as possible also helps Hayes to keep an even keel.

He added: '(Getting home) definitely helps from the point of view of still enjoying it. If you were immersed in it the whole time you might feel under pressure. I love being able to get down for a half day and get home and when you come back and feel refreshed and you are able to go again.'

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