Saturday, 27 February 2016

England v Ireland - Preview

England make two changes to the side who beat Italy, with Maro Itoje and Joe Marler coming into the pack.

Itoje makes his first start at lock and prop Marler replaces Mako Vunipola, while uncapped centre Elliot Daly is on the bench.

Ireland hand debuts to centre Stuart McCloskey and flanker Josh van der Flier as they make five changes to the side who lost to France.

Also coming in to the side are Keith Earls, Donnacha Ryan and Mike Ross.

England head coach Eddie Jones: "Playing our first game at Twickenham after two away fixtures will be huge for us. We're determined to put in a strong performance against a clever Irish side who are the benchmark of European rugby."

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt on attempted mind games by Jones: "I think we're probably less affected by those extraneous things than you people are.

"That's because if we're distracted by that, then that's something that we're wasting energy and time on.

"We get little enough time together as it is. And we're all about making sure that we can be organised, enthusiastic and well-recovered, not distracted.

"People are within their rights to make whatever observation they like from outside the environment. But we know how things are inside the environment."

England have won four out of the last five meetings against Ireland after only winning one out of the eight games preceding that.

So far in this Six Nations, England have scored more points (55) than the games involving Ireland have provided in total (51).

England are yet to concede a try in this year's Six Nations - restricting both Scotland and Italy to nine points apiece in their two matches so far.

They have started the Six Nations with successive victories for the sixth time in seven years.

Ireland have failed to win their opening two matches of the Five/Six Nations for the first time since 1998, a year in which they picked up the Wooden Spoon.

They scored 82 points in their three away games in the 2015 Six Nations, but managed just nine against France.

Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley (captain), Dan Cole, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Chris Robshaw, James Haskell, Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Paul Hill, Courtney Lawes, Jack Clifford, Danny Care, Elliot Daly, Alex Goode.

Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble, Robbie Henshaw, Stuart McCloskey, Keith Earls, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Donnacha Ryan, Devin Toner, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Jamie Heaslip (captain).
Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Cian Healy, Nathan White, Ultan Dillane, Rhys Ruddock, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Simon Zebo.

Referee: Romain Poite (FFR)
Touch judges: Nigel Owens (WRU) & Alexandre Ruiz (FFR)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (SARU)

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