Joe Schmidt has this afternoon trimmed his original 38 man squad used for their training camp in Portugal, down to a matchday 23 to face England in our opening six nations game on Saturday at 4:45 pm.
Robbie Henshaw’s move to full-back had been flagged as a possibility by some sections of the media, due to him slotting into the position during training drills last week. He spent most of his first two seasons for Connacht at full-back and indeed made his Irish debut in that role for the Wolfhounds against the England Saxons back in January 2014. However, for Leinster, he has only played in the role on a couple of occasions. Rob Kearney has struggled since his return from injury and a sluggish performance against Scarlets last week sees him omitted from the matchday 23 as Jordan Larmour provides cover on the bench.
This switch also allows Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose continue their partnership at centre, they previously paired up for last years victory over England at Twickenham, and of course more recently, against the All-Black’s in November.
Schmidt’s hand has been forced to a certain extent by injuries, particularly in the second row. The starting pairing of Devon Toner and James Ryan is no surprise, However, Quinn Roux will provide cover from the bench after injuries to Iain Henderson and Tadgh Beirne. Also at scrum-half where injuries to Kieran Marmion and Luke McGrath sees John Cooney provide back up to Conor Murray. Sean O’Brien returns to the bench after injury as Josh Van Der Flier starts in the back row alongside the Munster pair of Peter O’Mahony and C.J. Stander.
Eddie Jones has also had to contend with injuries in the build-up to this clash. Manu Tuilagi will start his first Six Nations clash since 2013 in place of the injured Ben Te’o. His pack is dominated by Saracens players, with five of the eight starters playing for the only English side to advance to the Champions Cup quarterfinals.
England team to face Ireland:
- Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
- Jamie George (Saracens)
- Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)
- Maro Itoje (Saracens)
- George Kruis (Saracens)
- Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)
- Tom Curry (Sale Sharks)
- Billy Vunipola (Saracens)
- Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
- Owen Farrell (Saracens)
- Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
- Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
- Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
- Jonny May (Leicester Tigers)
- Elliot Daly (Wasps)
16. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)
17. Eilis Genge (Leicester Tigers)
18. Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs)
19. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
20. Nathan Hughes (Wasps)
21. Dan Robson (Wasps)
22. George Ford (Leicester Tigers)
23. Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks)