Picking The Ireland Team To Take On England In The Six Nations
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Ireland made it two wins from two in the Six Nations this past weekend with a 24-14 bonus-point win over defending champions Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, setting up a Triple Crown match with England in two weeks.
Tries from Jordan Larmour, Tadhg Furlong, Josh van der Flier and Andrew Conway ensured a perfect start for the men in green following their opening round win over Scotland.
England meanwhile got their Six Nations back on track with a 13-6 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield but Ireland will smell blood ahead of their Twickenham meeting on February 23rd.
Andy Farrell’s side looked much improved against Wales, while question marks still hang over England who have continued to operate without a recognised number eight in their squad.
George Ford once again struggled at outhalf, and while Manu Tuilagi looks set to be fit in time to face Ireland – Eddie Jones’ side certainly look beatable on current form.
But does Farrell stick to the same team that demolished Wales or does he change things up a little bit? Personally, I’d make just one change to the starting line-up and that’s Dave Kilcoyne as a straight swap for Cian Healy, who has been far from his best at this year’s championship.
Kilcoyne meanwhile made a huge impact off the bench against Wales, instantly helping his side win an important scrum penalty. Yes, the argument can be made that Kilcoyne is more of an explosive option than Healy off the bench, but as we’ve seen in the past – a strong start is always needed against England, especially in Twickenham.
Healy may also benefit from a bit of uncertainty in terms of his place in the starting line-up. We’ve seen how positive an effect that’s had on the likes of Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander and Robbie Henshaw in recent weeks.
O’Mahony was superb off the bench against Scotland, as was Stander when he got a chance to move back to his favoured position of eight. Henshaw meanwhile put in one of his best performances in an Irish jersey in recent memory against Wales, proving that putting a bit of fire in the bellies of these guys can have a huge effect on their form.
The same can be said for Keith Earls who was excellent off the bench against Wales, despite the fact that he had to slot into the centre, rather than his preferred position of the wing.
Andrew Conway has certainly done enough to keep his provincial teammate out of the starting line-up but having someone of Earl’s experience champing at the bit on the bench is a huge weapon for Ireland.
One other change that might be considered to deal with England in the lineout is promoting Toner to the starting line-up but Henderson has probably done enough to keep the Leinster lock benched.
As for the bench, we’d bring Doris back in providing he’s fully fit and ready to go following his head injury against Scotland. He could be a real difference-maker off the bench giving his turnover ability and explosiveness in the carry.
Potential Ireland team vs England
15. Jordan Larmour
14. Andrew Conway
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray
1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Rob Herring
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Iain Henderson
5. James Ryan
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Josh van der Flier
8. CJ Stander
16. Ronan Kelleher
17. Cian Healy
18. Andrew Porter
19. Devin Toner
20. Caelan Doris
21. John Cooney
22. Ross Byrne
23. Keith Earls