The Ireland Wolfhounds, sponsored by Three and coached by Dan McFarland and Richie Murphy, host England Saxons at the redeveloped Irish Independent Park, with this annual encounter offering players on both sides a chance to push for Six Nations selection.
‘A’ INTERNATIONAL MATCH: Friday, January 30
IRELAND WOLFHOUNDS v ENGLAND SAXONS, Irish Independent Park, 7.45pm (live RTÉ 2/Sky Sports 2 HD)
Team News: Full-back Felix Jones will captain a strong Ireland Wolfhounds team, sponsored by Three, against England Saxons at Irish Independent Park in Cork.
The only uncapped player in the starting line-up is Jack Conan who lines out at number 8 and he is joined in the back row by Sean O’Brien and Dominic Ryan.
Iain Henderson continues his return from injury, locking down in the second row alongside Mike McCarthy, while the front row consists of Mike Ross, Richardt Strauss and Jack McGrath.
Kieran Marmion will combine with Ian Madigan at half-back with Gordon D’Arcy and Keith Earls forming the centre partnership. Skipper Jones is joined in the back-three by Fergus McFadden and Luke Fitzgerald.
Front row replacements for Friday’s ‘A’ international fixture include Rob Herring, Michael Bent and Nathan White, while Robbie Diack and Eoin McKeon provide cover for the back five and reserve backs Isaac Boss, Noel Reid and Craig Gilroy complete the bench.
Meanwhile, former rugby league star Sam Burgess will make his international rugby union debut on Friday, starting at inside centre in one of the strongest England Saxons teams selected in recent years.
He will be joined in midfield by Elliot Daly with England internationals Chris Ashton and Marland Yarde on the wings. Worcester Warriors’ Chris Pennell, who made his England debut against New Zealand last summer, will start at full-back and Northampton Saints scrum half Lee Dickson will lead the side out.
The front row is full of international experience with Wasps’ Matt Mullan and Bath duo Rob Webber and Henry Thomas – all members of last summer’s New Zealand touring party – chosen to start.
IRELAND WOLFHOUNDS: Felix Jones (Shannon/Munster) (capt); Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster), Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster); Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht); Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Richardt Strauss (Old Wesley/Leinster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Mike McCarthy (Leinster), Dominic Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster).
Replacements: Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Michael Bent (Leinster), Nathan White (Galwegians/Connacht), Robbie Diack (Malone/Ulster), Eoin McKeon (Corinthians/Connacht), Isaac Boss (Terenure College/Leinster), Noel Reid (Clontarf/Leinster), Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster).
ENGLAND SAXONS: Chris Pennell (Worcester Warriors); Chris Ashton (Saracens), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Sam Burgess (Bath), Marland Yarde (Harlequins); Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints) (capt); Matt Mullan (Wasps), Rob Webber (Bath), Henry Thomas (Bath), Matt Garvey (Bath), James Gaskell (Wasps), Dave Ewers (Exeter Chiefs), Matt Kvesic (Gloucester), Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs).
Replacements: Luke Cowan Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Alex Waller (Northampton Saints), Jake Cooper-Woolley (Wasps), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Carl Fearns (Bath), Joe Simpson (Wasps), Ollie Devoto (Bath), Christian Wade (Wasps).
Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Simon Rees, Stuart Kibble (both Wales)
Television Match Official: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland Wolfhounds to win: 1/2; Draw: 18/1; England Saxons to win: 8/5
Pre-Match Quotes: Dan McFarland (Ireland Wolfhounds coach) – “The approach was based on giving players an opportunity to put their hand up going forward into the Six Nations. There is obviously a mixture of experience and young players in the team.
“Some players have not played as many minutes over the last couple of months as is deemed necessary going into the Six Nations and this is seen as an opportunity for them to take the field and get some minutes under their belt.”
Jon Callard (England Saxons coach) – “The game on Friday night against the Wolfhounds will be a difficult and tough match for us but the group is excited about it and the opportunity to put on an England shirt.
“The team is one of the strongest Saxons sides selected and every player knows the importance of this match with potential of claiming a spot in the senior squad for the Six Nations campaign and the World Cup later in year.”
Pre-Match Videos –
Match Day Information:
Tickets will be available to purchase from the Ticketmaster van outside the Dolphin Gate from 4pm today. Please note that there will be free seating in the Stand. Gates open at 6.15pm.
Ticket Prices: Adult Stand – €;25; Junior Stand – €;10; Adult Terrace – €;15; Junior Terrace – €;5; Family Pack Terrace – €;30 (2 adults & 2 junior)
Stand Upgrades – on sale at each end of the stand – subject to availability. Adults €;10/Junior €;5
The Black Ash Park and Ride car park will be remain open until 10pm to accommodate supporters – €;3 per car. Please respect the local residents by not parking illegally. Any cars obstructing entrances/exits will be clamped and towed.
It is a big day in Cork, as Irish Independent Park opens its gates after a €;3.2 million redevelopment. Check out the new stand, and the covered East Terrace, now known as the Red Shed. We are turning the Red Shed ‘green’ for the occasion with supporters flags!
There will be some great giveaways during half-time, including tickets and Irish jerseys – don’t forget to buy a match programme to be in with a chance to win! Match programmes will be on sale inside the grounds costing €;3.
A new range of food will be on sale – available from the new concession units at each end of the stand – including homemade Irish beef burgers, chicken salsa and guacamole tacos and BBQ marinated pulled pork.
Recent Meetings –
2011: Ireland Wolfhounds 20 England Saxons 11, Ravenhill
2012: England Saxons 23 Ireland Wolfhounds 17, Sandy Park
2013: Ireland Wolfhounds 10 England Saxons 14, the Sportsground
2014: England Saxons 8 Ireland Wolfhounds 14, Kingsholm