Eddie Jones selects brutish England side to heap further pain on Ireland
Eddie Jones is desperate to win his first home game as England coach and has selected a fearsome 15 to get the job done.
Saracens forward Maro Itoje gets his first Test start in a second row containing the in-form George Kruis. The back and front rows remained unchanged from the units that doled out a beating to Italy on February 14th.
Indeed, there is only one enforced change from that England side that did the business in Rome. The only tactical switch is Joe Marler starting over Mako Vunipola.
Dylan Hartley will captain his first home Test from the hooker role with Dan Cole and Marler for company up front. Mike Brown, Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell form a potent back three and Ben Youngs is partnered in the half back line by George Ford.
Jonathan Joseph and Owen Farrell continue in midfield with talented outside centre Elliot Daly on the bench. Alex Goode has overcome fitness concerns to join him on the bench.
Brown, Watson, Joseph, Farrell, Nowell, Ford, Youngs; Marler, Hartley, Cole, Itoje, Kruis, Robshaw, Haskell, B. Vunipola
Replacements: George, M. Vunipola, Hill, Lawes, Clifford, Care, Daly, Goode
Jones named his 23-man squad on Tuesday night but was forced into a late change as Joe Launchbury [hamstring] returned to his club for treatment. His replacement, Courtney Lawes, ain't half bad. The Australian commented:
"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 will name their team at 1:30pm today with some uncapped players - Josh van der Flier, Stuart McCloskey and Ultan Dillane - all set to feature.
The Six Nations champions are without a win in their opening two fixtures. Joe Schmidt is currently without 11 senior players due to injury.