Ireland vs England at the Aviva Stadium
The big one
What we can expect
A Six Nations match against England? In Dublin? On a Saint Patrick’s weekend? With a Grand Slam and a world record at stake? It’ll be quiet…
Losing Conor Murray to injury is a big blow for Ireland as they take up the mantle once again of Grand-Slam killers. Murray has been replaced by Kieran Marmion, while Jared Payne comes in for the also-injured Rob Kearney and Iain Henderson replaces Devin Toner who drops to the bench.
Matchday 23: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Kieran Marmion; 1 Jake McGrath, 2 Rory Best (c), 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 5 Iain Henderson, 6 CJ Stander, 7 Sean O’Brien, 8 Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Cian Healy, 18 John Ryan, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Andrew Conway
Injury may have been against him, but Eddie Jones has saved arguably his best matchday squad for the last game of the tournament when everything is at stake for England, though the ever-industrious Jack Nowell may feel a little aggrieved about being relegated to the role of ‘finisher’ (as Jones insists on calling those players on bench-warming duty. Tom Wood could earn his 50th England cap if he does come off the horizontal finisher-holding surface.
Matchday 23: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Joe Marler, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 3 Dan Cole, 4 Joe Launchbury, 5 Courtney Lawes, 6 Maro Itoje, 7 James Haskell, 8 Billy Vunipola. Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Tom Wood, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Danny Care, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Jack Nowell
All eyes on: Billy Vunipola
Big Billy returns to the starting line-up and knows he has some catching up to do if he is to book himself a seat on the plane to New Zealand this summer. His battle with Jamie Heaslip will be fascinating.
Key battle: The back three
Johnny Sexton is a master of the hanging high ball – and the Irish chasers will hunt down and harry whichever luckless Englishman is underneath them all game long. How the likes of Mike Brown, Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly handle that pressure will be key to the outcome of this game.
Epic. England by 5.
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