Ireland team that should face England and set up Six Nations decider
"We know that they’re going to come hard at us."
Andy Farrell was adventurous with some of his Ireland team selections for the win over Italy. He may revert to some of his go-to guys for the trip to Twickenham.
Following his side's 57-6 win over an Italian side that played over an hour with only 13 men, and the last seven minutes with 12, Farrell was already being asked to look ahead to the March 12 date with Eddie Jones' England.
"We know that England like to kick the ball for territory a lot, the same as what they’ve done for the last couple of seasons," he said. "I thought they were good against Wales, dominant as far as territory is concerned and they thoroughly deserved their half-time lead. But I suppose like us there will be plenty for them to ponder on in the next couple of weeks."
Having made six changes to his starting team for the Italy game, there will be changes made again for that trip to London. Farrell confirmed, too, after the game that Robbie Henshaw [head] would be going through the Return To Play protocols while Andrew Porter was taken off, after 43 minutes, as a precaution when he picked up an 'ankle strain'.
On the latest House of Rugby URC [LISTEN from 4:30 below], Leinster and Ireland outhalf Ross Byrne offered some tactical comments about the Italy game that suggest there could be a change in the Irish back three that started the opening two championship rounds.
James Lowe could retain place in Ireland team
Asked why Johnny Sexton replaced Joey Carbery with half an hour to play, against Italy, and why James Lowe started, Ross Byrne reasoned that his Leinster teammates may both be lined up for the XV to face England.
Lowe, as Byrne noted, scored two tries and set another up, as well as providing the exit kicks that Andy Farrell is a big fan of. The player that may find his place under threat, then, could be Andrew Conway, who started against Wales and France.
Caelan Doris looks better suited as an 8 than a blindside, but Farrell is likely to move him back to accommodate a return to the back row for Jack Conan. That is what we would opt form, too.
With Porter now ruled out because of that ankle injury, we are keeping Munster's Dave Kilcoyne in the starting front row, with Cian Healy the experienced reserve for the final stretch.
The next call we would make is one we sense Farrell will go for, too. Mack Hansen dropping out after three very good outings and Andrew Conway, with that proven high ball track record, coming back in. Elsewhere in the backline - seeing as how it was apparent we struggled for punch against Italy - Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki start in the centre.
Elsewhere, nothing too earth-shattering, with James Ryan hopefully fit again to take his place in the second row and Iain Henderson [hopefully, again] able to resume training and playing after his Covid positive, last week.
Our Ireland team to face England
15. Hugo Keenan
14. Andrew Conway
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Bundee Aki
11. James Lowe
10. Johnny Sexton (captain)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park
1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Dan Sheehan
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. James Ryan
6. Caelan Doris
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jack Conan
Subs: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, Peter O'Mahony, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Garry Ringrose.
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