Schmidt appeared unfazed by Mitchell’s attempt to get under his skin, however, dismissing his fellow New Zealander’s jibe as “banter”.
“I don’t think for a moment that it’s going to be boring. I think it’s going to be exhilarating,” Schmidt told media on Thursday after announcing his side for the juggernaut clash.
“I think it’s going to be edge of the seat because I don’t think there’s a huge amount between the teams.”
Schmidt sprung a surprise in his team announcement, with regular midfielder Robbie Henshaw being shifted to fullback in place of Rob Kearney.
It will be the first time the 25-year-old has played there since making his international debut against the United States in 2013.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) January 31, 2019
Schmidt cited a lack of game time for 90-test Kearney due to a thigh injury and an increase in depth in the Irish midfield as the main reasons for the tactical switch.
Taking Henshaw’s place in the midfield is 24-year-old Garry Ringrose, who will pair up with the explosive Bundee Aki.
Both sides are set to enjoy the return of key players within their ranks, with veteran halfback Conor Murray set to suit up in the emerald green for the first time since June last year after sustaining a neck injury.
English midfielder Manu Tuilagi will start in his first test in over four-and-a-half years, while brothers Mako and Billy Vunipola have been welcomed back into Eddie Jones’ side after a string of injuries that have kept them out of the national set-up for a number of months.
BREAKING | Your England team to face Ireland on Saturday in the #GuinnessSixNations
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) January 31, 2019
Both sides are set to open their Six Nations campaigns against each other at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on February 2.
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