Double change for Slam-chasing England

Date published: March 16 2017

Eddie Jones has named his side for England’s final match of the Six Nations against Ireland at Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

There are two changes to the starting XV that beat Scotland in last weekend’s Calcutta Cup as England retained the Six Nations and maintained their unbeaten run in the Championship.

Billy Vunipola (Saracens) starts at number eight having come off the bench against Scotland and in the backline Anthony Watson (Bath) is named on the right wing.

Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs) and Nathan Hughes (Wasps) are the only changes to the bench.

Saturday’s match will see 30-year old back-row forward Tom Wood (Northampton Saints) win his 50th cap for England having made his debut against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in 2011.

“We’ve had a really good week’s preparation,” said England head coach Jones. 

“The intensity of training has been good. It’s going to be quite an occasion in Dublin so we understand we have to be prepared emotionally, physically and mentally.

“The mood in camp has been positive. We’re very excited ahead of what is a huge opportunity for the players. You sense the intensity has stepped up; it has in training, definitely.

“The message to the players has been quite simple, we’re playing Ireland on Saturday and that is the only thing that counts. We are focusing on preparing well, the only thing we can control is our preparation. 

“Ireland not having anything to play for means they have the courage to fail which frees them up mentally, we are a little bit vulnerable because we have already been crowned the Six Nations champions and we had a big win against Scotland, so for us it’s getting the right mind-set for the game.

“I congratulate Tom Wood on his personal milestone. He is a committed team man, who has fought his way back into this set-up and has been a great contributor to the team on and off the field. He works very hard and it’s a great reward for him.”

England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 James Haskell, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Tom Wood, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Danny Care, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Jack Nowell

Date: Saturday, March 18
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant Referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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