First I’ve heard of a team peaking a year and a half too early. I expect Ireland to come back well in this championship in terms of performance at least. Ireland needed to win things and reach a certain consistent level of performance whilst they could, no guarantee that trying to peak for a WC from 18 months out would lead to anything other than disappointment all round. Instead they have the belief and the experience of winning things and knowing they can live with the best in the world, on their day.
JS will have planned to let his team off the full throttle for a little while and then build it up as the year goes on. He doesn’t have the depth of squad nor the youth in some of his men to keep them going for the guts of a full year. England had stuff to prove and to sort out in this 6N. They were already getting back to something like their previous form last autumn. The big test for them is how they react in a close battle in the final 15 minutes of a game, I think that’s where there’s always been a weakness with them the last number of years.
Also Ireland look like having most of their players playing at a high level in the Euro Cup well into this year.