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RBS 6 Nations Preview: England v Ireland

RBS 6 Nations Preview: England v Ireland

Twickenham is the first away destination of Joe Schmidt’s reign as Ireland attempt to beat England for the first time in four matches, with the prize of a Triple Crown providing even more motivation for the visitors.

2014 RBS 6 NATIONS: Saturday, February 22

ENGLAND (3rd) v IRELAND (1st), Twickenham, 4pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC One/RTÉ Radio 1/IRFU Live Blog)

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Team News: Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has named an unchanged team for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations showdown with England at Twickenham.

Paul O’Connell will lead the side on the occasion of his 90th cap as Ireland seek their first win at Twickenham since 2010.

Chris Henry, a try scorer against Wales, retains the number 7 jersey and is joined in the back row by Peter O’Mahony and Jamie Heaslip.

Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton continue as the half-back pairing with Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy lining out in midfield.

O’Driscoll’s 63rd Championship appearance will see him go level on the Six Nations all-time list with Ronan O’Gara, while his 139th international outing (8 caps with the Lions) equals George Gregan’s record as the most-capped player in Test rugby history.

There will also be a caps milestone for hooker Rory Best as he overtakes David Humphreys as Ulster’s most-capped Ireland international (73 caps).

There are two changes on the replacements bench with Iain Henderson in for the injured Dan Tuohy and the uncapped Jordi Murphy providing back row cover.

Meanwhile, England have made two changes to their matchday squad for their round 3 encounter with Ireland.

Tighthead prop David Wilson of Bath replaces the injured Dan Cole, who will require three months’ rest from rugby before further assessment on his neck, while uncapped Bath out-half George Ford comes in for Brad Barritt on the replacements bench.

Team captain Chris Robshaw commented: “Twickenham and the crowd is a massive factor for us and we wanted to do a slightly longer walk to experience even more the support we get before the game.

“The supporters give us a huge lift and we know the atmosphere on Saturday will be amazing.”

ENGLAND: Mike Brown (Harlequins); Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Jonny May (Gloucester); Owen Farrell (Saracens), Danny Care (Harlequins); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), David Wilson (Bath), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins) (capt), Billy Vunipola (Saracens).

Replacements: Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks), Dave Attwood (Bath), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), George Ford (Bath), Alex Goode (Saracens).

IRELAND: Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster); Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster), Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster), Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster); Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro 92), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster); Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster) (capt), Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster), Chris Henry (Malone/Ulster), Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster).

Replacements: Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Martin Moore (Lansdowne/Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Isaac Boss (Terenure College/Leinster), Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster), Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster).

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Television Match Official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): England to win: 8/13; Draw: 22/1; Ireland to win: 6/4

Pre-Match Quotes: Joe Schmidt (Ireland) – “What has been good is that the players have stayed really process focused – ‘these are the things we need to do well’.

“And as long as you’re concentrating on those things there is less of a distraction about the whole aura of the match – the atmosphere that’s going to be in the stadium, the cacophony of sound that’s going to potentially distract players.

“If they are process focused and are just looking after what they need to do on the field, then hopefully we can deflect a little bit of that anxiety. Now, inevitably there is going to be a little bit of anxiety and part of that is a positive, because if you can channel that into your motivation then that can be positive.

“Unfortunately you can go to a place like Twickenham, do the best you can, play really well and then not get the result, because that’s the calibre of opposition and the nature of Test rugby.

“One thing I’m confident of is we’re not going to be short of effort. We are certainly going to roll our sleeves up and get the best performance that we possibly can.

“If it isn’t good enough, I’d be hopeful that it’s not too far away and we’re still in the mix in the wider Six Nations, but we’d dearly love to get a result and get the Triple Crown.”

Stuart Lancaster (England) – “We are excited about being back at our home after two games on the road. The Twickenham crowd during the November internationals was superb and I’m sure it’ll be the same again on Saturday.

“We have been forced into one change and we wish Dan Cole all the best for his recovery. However, David Wilson is an experienced international with 31 caps and he showed in his three starts against Argentina last year what he can do.

“We’ve made an active decision to go with George Ford on the bench as we believe that he is ready for the next step in his development and we are confident he will make an impression should he come on.”

Pre-Match Links –

Best Expects England To Be Toughest Test Yet

#BehindTheGreen: Andrew Trimble

In Pics: Ireland’s Six Nations Journey So Far

#BehindTheGreen: Devin Toner

Head-To-Head: Ireland v England

Ireland v England: Facts & Figures

#BehindTheGreen: Ireland Team Announcement

#BehindTheGreen: Ireland Squad Visit Coolmore Stud

Recent Meetings –

2011: RBS 6 Nations: Ireland 24 England 8, Aviva Stadium; Rugby World Cup warm-up: Ireland 9 England 20, Aviva Stadium
2012: RBS 6 Nations: England 30 Ireland 9, Twickenham
2013: RBS 6 Nations: Ireland 6 England 12, Aviva Stadium

Support Ireland on www.irishrugby.ie/facebook or search #ENGvIRL on www.twitter.com/irfurugby.