Ireland have made four changes to their side to face England on Saturday in the Autumn Nations Cup, recalling CJ Stander for a rare start at blindside but keeping veteran scrum-half Conor Murray in reserve so that Jamison Gibson-Park features in an all-Leinster half-back partnership with call-up Ross Byrne.
With skipper and regular out-half Johnny Sexton injured, the inclusion of Byrne for just his second-ever Test start is one of three changes to the backline which started the Nations Cup win over Wales last Friday in Dublin. Keith Earls, who appeared from the bench, starts at right wing in place of Andrew Conway, who drops out of the matchday 23.
Byrne’s only previous Ireland start came in the 57-15 pre-World Cup defeat to England at Twickenham in August 2019, a match that cost him RWC selection as Jack Carty was chosen instead.
The third backs change comes at midfield where Bundee Aki is recalled in place of the injured Robbie Henshaw to form a partnership with Chris Farrell, who started his first Test last week since the September 2019 World Cup pool loss to Japan.
There is just one alteration to the Ireland Nations Cup pack, the rested Stander recalled to the back row with Josh van der Flier dropping out. Stander’s inclusion has caused a reshuffle with Peter O’Mahony switching to openside to allow Stander to wear No6 in a back row completed by Caelan Doris at No8.
The Ryan Line is open at Johnny Sexton's expense https://t.co/3Zo1i8GgVj
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 18, 2020
Ireland’s bench features Iain Henderson and Jacob Stockdale, the pair who were due to start against Wales only for both to pull out at the eleventh-hour. Tadhg Beirne, who was called onto the bench to fill in for Quinn Roux when he covered the Henderson vacancy in the starting XV, drops out.
Stockdale, meanwhile, takes over the No23 from Earls, and the only other bench change sees Rob Herring take over as replacement hooker from Dave Heffernan.
IRELAND (vs England, Saturday)
15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 3 caps
14. Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 85 caps
13. Chris Farrell (Munster/Young Munster) 11 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 28 caps
11. James Lowe (Leinster) 1 cap
10. Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 8 caps
9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 3 caps
1. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 101 caps
2. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 4 caps
3. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 29 caps
4. Quinn Roux (Connacht/Galwegians) 13 caps
5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 29 caps CAPTAIN
6. CJ Stander (Munster/Shannon) 43 caps
7. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 70 caps
8. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 5 caps
16. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 13 caps
17. Ed Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 3 caps
18. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 12 caps
19. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 55 caps
20. Will Connors (Leinster/UCD) 3 caps
21. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 84 caps
22. Billy Burns (UIster) 1 cap
23. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 30 caps
Bad news, Willis fans https://t.co/j6cTBr9m0a
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 17, 2020
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