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RBS 6 Nations Preview: Ireland v England

RBS 6 Nations Preview: Ireland v England

The top two teams in the RBS 6 Nations table, and the only ones left with Grand Slam ambitions, will meet at the Aviva Stadium this afternoon with Ireland looking to make it five consecutive home wins over England in the Championship.

2013 RBS 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Sunday, February 10

IRELAND (2nd) v ENGLAND (1st), Aviva Stadium, 3pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC One)

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Team News: The Ireland team and replacements for Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations showdown with England at the Aviva Stadium have been named.

Head coach Declan Kidney has selected an unchanged side from the one that beat Wales 30-22 in Cardiff last weekend.

Gordon D’Arcy, Peter O’Mahony and Keith Earls have all recovered from knocks picked up in that game and will take their place in the matchday squad.

“All three lads trained with us so that is not a problem and barring any reaction, which we don’t expect, we don’t have any fitness tests planned for tomorrow,” said Kidney.

“The players have recovered pretty well from the Wales game. We took 48 hours off after the match and have toned down training since.”

Meanwhile, back rower James Haskell will start for England in their crunch Championship clash with Ireland in Dublin.

Haskell’s inclusion at blindside flanker, with Tom Wood moving across to number 8 in place of the injured Ben Morgan, is the only change to the starting line-up from the Twickenham win over Scotland.

Thomas Waldrom has been added to the replacements bench in place of Haskell, while Manu Tuilagi, back from an ankle injury, takes over from David Strettle as one of the reserve backs.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster said: “We were pleased with our intent to play against Scotland. A lot of the players performed very well and with Manu coming back into the equation it gave us some selection decisions.

“But with the centres playing well last week and Manu still returning to match fitness, having not played for the last four weeks, he and others will give us great options from the bench in what I am sure will be a physical encounter.

“It was good to have Billy Vunipola be able to train with us in the middle of the week but he needs some game-time, so he and David Strettle will be available for their clubs this weekend.”

IRELAND: Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster); Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster), Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster), Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster); Jonathan Sexton (St.Mary’s College/Leinster), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster); Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Mike McCarthy (Buccaneers/Connacht), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster), Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster), Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster) (capt).

Replacements: Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), David Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster), Declan Fitzpatrick (Dungannon/Ulster), Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Chris Henry (Malone/Ulster), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster), Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster).

ENGLAND: Alex Goode (Saracens); Chris Ashton (Saracens), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Mike Brown (Harlequins); Owen Farrell (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), James Haskell (London Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins) (capt), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints).

Replacements: Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), David Wilson (Bath), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers), Danny Care (Harlequins), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers).

Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Pascal Gauzere (France)
Television Match Official: Iain Ramage (Scotland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland to win: 21/20; Draw: 18/1; England to win: 20/21

Pre-Match Quotes: Rob Kearney (Ireland) – “It’s exciting playing with Craig (Gilroy) and Simon (Zebo). I feel a little bit like the old man bringing the two lads under my wing.

“When young guys come in, that little bit of fearlessness and desire to attack is their first instinct. It sort of rejuvenates me a little bit as well.

“At the same time I know this is only their second Six Nations game so I’ve got a responsibility to look after them.

“It’s a huge day for us (the back-three) against England because they’re going to kick a lot of ball and try to put us under pressure.

“It’s going to be very tight. I genuinely believe this is as good an England team as they’ve had for a long time. I don’t know how the bookies have it, but they’re always pretty close. It’s going to be down to a kick or two.

“To us, it’s just another game, but it is very hard to ignore the buzz that’s created by this fixture. For everyone Irish, this is the one game they’re really up for and excited about.

“We do welcome the buzz though because it’s something you can use to your advantage. It’s a massive game and the one game in the calendar that always sticks out at you.

“Any professional sportsperson will tell you that you relish the big days. They’re the days that you enjoy and get the biggest kick out of and this is one of those.”

Toby Flood (England) – “Historically we have not gone very well over there (in Dublin), the last result was a win just before the World Cup in 2011 but that doesn’t really count for a huge amount.

“They are an impressive side, the way they dismantled Wales last weekend and how they produced that result is impressive, especially at the Millennium Stadium.

“They have an incredibly strong, mobile game and the way they play allows them to cause damage in different areas.

“They have huge, huge positives from their game and it is something we have to be very wary of come the weekend.”

Pre-Match Links –

Irish Rugby TV: Team Announcement Press Conference

Irish Rugby TV: Kidney And Kiss In The Coaches Box

Irish Rugby TV: Behind The Scenes With Quinny

Head-To-Head: Ireland v England

In Pics: Ireland Captain’s Run At The Aviva Stadium

What Are The Odds?

Recent Meetings –

2010: RBS 6 Nations: England 16 Ireland 20, Twickenham
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

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