RUGBY

Six Nations: England ring the changes as Ireland go in search of a Grand Slam

The 2018/19 Six Nations champions, Ireland, will be going in search of their third Grand Slam title as they face England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Ireland have been in fine form since ending England’s 18-match unbeaten record under Eddie Jones last season and are currently on a run of 11 successive wins.

England’s fortunes have been extremely different to that of last season. Jones’ men are in danger of finishing the tournament with only two wins, the first time this will have happened since 2006.

The Australian has made wholesale changes in an attempt to stop the Irish, but insists that “it’s a one-off selection”.

George Ford, Joe Launchbury, Dan Cole and Danny Care have all dropped to the bench.
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Owen Farrell moves to fly-half to form a half-back partnership alongside Saracens teammate Richard Wigglesworth. Ben Te’o moves to inside centre with Jonathan Joseph restored to the starting XV.

George Kruis returns to partner club teammate Maro Itoje in the second-row. James Haskell comes into the back-row in place of the injured Courtney Lawes, with Chris Robshaw moving to the blindside. Kyle Sinckler gets his first start of the tournament alongside mainstay Mako Vunipola and returning captain Dylan Hartley.

A big inclusion alongside Jones’ “finishers” is that of Don Armand. The Exeter Chiefs back-rower has been rewarded for his fine club form with a well deserved call-up, which many feel is long overdue.


Ireland have only made one change to the side that sealed the Six Nations last weekend against Scotland.

Iain Henderson is back in the starting line-up with Devin Toner on the bench.
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There had been concerns over the fitness levels of Peter O’Mahony, Rob Kearney and Cian Healy but they have all been declared fit and retain their starting positions.

Ireland’s victory last weekend, alongside England’s defeat, saw the Irish go up to second in the world rankings. A much deserved achievement for a team that has dominated this years’ tournament.
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However, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt isn’t getting ahead of himself before this weekend’s fixture, “you don’t dare to dream about what it might mean at the end of things or what the occasion may be (like)”.

The match takes place on Saturday with kick-off at 14:45.

You can follow the match on our live blog.

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