England v Ireland preview: Team news, kick-off time, line-ups and stats for the Six Nations clash
Unbeaten England host Ireland in the RBS Six Nations on Saturday: 16:40 kick-off
Eddie Jones makes two changes to the side who beat Italy, with Maro Itoje and Joe Marler coming into the pack
Ireland hand debuts to centre Stuart McCloskey and flanker Josh van der Flier
With the Irish clinging to their Six Nations crown by their fingernails, it is win or bust for the visitors against England at Twickenham.
A draw and a loss leave Joe Schmidt’s side on one point while England are riding high at the top after two, somewhat expected, victories.
Therefore, it’s common knowledge that the English can put the nail in Ireland’s coffin this weekend when they make their bow on home soil, thus ending their visitors’ recent stranglehold on the trophy. Alternatively, a different result would throw this Championship wide open.
England makes two changes to the side who beat Italy, with Eddie Jones brining Maro Itoje and Joe Marler into the pack.
The Saracens second rower makes his first start at lock while prop Marler replaces Mako Vunipola with uncapped Wasps Centre Elliot Daly on the bench.
Ireland’s hand debuts to centre Stuart McCloskey and flanker Josh van der Flier as they make five changes to the side who lost to France.
Also coming into Joe Schmidt’s starting XV are Keith Earls, Donnacha Ryan and Mike Ross.
England have won four out of the last five meetings against Ireland after only winning one out of the eight games preceding that.
So far in this Six Nations, England have scored more points (55) than the games involving Ireland have provided in total (51).
England are yet to concede a try in this year’s Six Nations – restricting both Scotland and Italy to nine points apiece in their two matches so far
They have started the Six Nations with successive victories for the sixth time in seven years
Ireland have failed to win their opening two matches of the Five/Six Nations for the first time since 1998, a year in which they picked up the Wooden Spoon
They scored 82 points in their three away games in the 2015 Six Nations, but managed just nine against France.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
England: Dylan Hartley
Dylan Hartley’s feisty character has been ideal for the role of England captain thus far, though we are yet to see him in action at Twickenheam. It’s probably one way or the other with him; hero or zero. We will just have to sit back and see on Saturday.
Ireland: Robbie Henshaw
Powerful centre Henshaw started all of Ireland’s matches in last year’s victorious Six Nations, scoring a memorable try against England along the way. He’s a firm favourite of Joe Schmidt’s; dynamic in attack but robust defensively. Probably the northern hemisphere’s best complete centre.
2015: England won 21-13 in London
2015: Ireland won 19-9 in Dublin
2014: England won 13-10 in London
2013: England won 12-6 in Dublin
2012: England won 30-9 in London
2011: England won 20-9 in Dublin
2011: Ireland won 24-8 in Dublin
2010: Ireland won 20-16 in London
2009: Ireland won 14-13 in Dublin
2008: England won 33-10 in London
England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 James Haskell, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Danny Care, 22 Elliot Daly, 23 Alex Goode
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Nathan White, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Simon Zebo
Date: Saturday, February 27
Kick-off: 16:50 GMT
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Alexandre Ruiz (France)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)