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Test Match Preview: Ireland v England

Test Match Preview: Ireland v England

“It’s going to be tough, they’ve picked a strong side. But we need to put in a big performance and set ourselves on the right track towards the World Cup.” The words of Ireland’s stand-in captain Paul O’Connell ahead of the final GUINNESS Summer Series game.

2011 GUINNESS SUMMER SERIES: Saturday, August 27

IRELAND v ENGLAND, Aviva Stadium, 2.30pm (live Sky Sports 2/highlights RTÉ Two/BBC Two)

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Team News: The Ireland team to play England in the final match of the GUINNESS Summer Series has been named. In all, there are seven changes in personnel to the side that started last weekend’s game against France.

In the back-line, Geordan Murphy comes in at full-back to win his 70th cap with Tommy Bowe making his first start of the campaign on the wing. Andrew Trimble completes the back-three.

Keith Earls will start alongside Gordon D’Arcy in the centre, while Ronan O’Gara and Eoin Reddan form the half-back partnership.

Up front Jerry Flannery is named at hooker alongside Cian Healy and Mike Ross. Donncha O’Callaghan and Paul O’Connell are paired in the second row for their 40th start together for Ireland, with O’Connell named as captain.

Flankers Stephen Ferris and David Wallace both start for the first time this season, with Jamie Heaslip completing the back row.

Sean O’Brien (knee), regular captain Brian O’Driscoll (shoulder) and Rob Kearney (groin) have been ruled out because of their respective injuries.

Tickets for the GUINNESS Summer Series tie are sold out. The match will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 2, and there will be highlights later in the day on both RTÉ Two and BBC Two.

Meanwhile, England team manager Martin Johnson has made six changes in personnel for his side’s final World Cup warm-up fixture.

Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi and Jonny Wilkinson, England’s record points scorer, will start in the back-line, while Andrew Sheridan, Tom Croft and James Haskell have been promoted in the forwards.

Mike Tindall, who leads the side, will win his 72nd cap and draws level with Will Carling as England’s most-capped centre.

At the other end of his international career is Joe Simpson, the London Wasps scrum half who will win his first cap if he appears as a replacement.

The selected team contains just seven players who started last March’s RBS 6 Nations encounter with Ireland, including Dan Cole, Louise Deacon, Haskell and Nick Easter in the pack.

England lost that game 24-8 and have since played back-to-back matches against Wales, picking up a 23-19 win at Twickenham before losing 19-9 in the return fixture at the Millennium Stadium.

* The IRFU will be donating its match programme proceeds at Saturday’s game to Irish charity GOAL to help support their efforts in the drought and famine-stricken Horn Of Africa, so if you are going to the Aviva Stadium please buy a programme and contribute to this most worthy cause.

IRELAND: Geordan Murphy (Leicester Tigers); Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster), Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster); Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster); Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Jerry Flannery (Shannon/Munster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster) (capt), Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster), David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster), Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster).

Replacements: Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), Tom Court (Malone/Ulster), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster), Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution/Munster), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster), Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster).

ENGLAND: Ben Foden (Northampton Saints); Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Mike Tindall (London Irish) (capt), Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks); Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens); Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks), Steve Thompson (London Wasps), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), James Haskell (Black Rams), Nick Easter (Harlequins).

Replacements: Dylan Hartley (Bath), Matt Stevens (Saracens), Simon Shaw (Unattached), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), Joe Simpson (London Wasps), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Delon Armitage (London Irish).

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Tim Hayes (Wales)
Television Match Official: Giulio De Santis (Italy)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland to win: 10/11; Draw: 20/1; England to win: 10/11

Pre-Match Quotes: Declan Kidney (Ireland) – “I’m disappointed we’ve lost the last three matches but I know we can get ourselves right.

“We decided to have four warm-up internationals leading into New Zealand because in the past it’s taken us a while to get into our stride.

“I believe we’ll get into our stride now, but there are a few bits of the jigsaw that must come together and that’s what we’re trying to achieve.

“I feel we’re getting better every week and I expect the players to give everything because there’s no other way to wear a green jersey. We’re playing England in Dublin on Saturday, that’s all the matters.”

Martin Johnson (England) – “We expect a hugely competitive game in Dublin and it gives us the ideal run-out before we depart for the World Cup.

“These warm-up fixtures have been valuable in terms of our preparation for the World Cup, giving players game-time together.

“We wanted to give Manu (Tuilagi) another game and Mike (Tindall) another game. We’re in a good position where we have lots of tough decisions to make.

“Game-time is precious. That’s the team we think is right for this week. It’s the right team for this game and this opposition.”

Pre-Match Links –

Kidney Confident Ireland Will Deliver

Head-To-Head: Ireland v England

O’Connell Expects ‘Very Physical’ Test From England

Irish Rugby TV: Ireland Team Announcement

In Pics: Ireland O2 Team Training Session

Irish Rugby TV: Donnacha Ryan

Recent Meetings –

2008: RBS 6 Nations: England 33 Ireland 10, Twickenham
2009: RBS 6 Nations: Ireland 14 England 13, Croke Park
2010: RBS 6 Nations: England 16 Ireland 20, Twickenham
2011: RBS 6 Nations: Ireland 24 England 8, Aviva Stadium