England set for a ‘good battle’ with Ireland as Eddie Jones names team

Head coach makes just one change from the team that saw off France at Twickenham

Elliot Daly will start for England against Ireland in the Six Nations on Saturday. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Elliot Daly will start for England against Ireland in the Six Nations on Saturday. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

 

Six Nations: Ireland v England

Kick-off: 4.45pm, Saturday. Venue: Aviva Stadium. How to follow: The Irish Times liveblog will begin at 4.15pm. On TV: Live on Virgin Media One and ITV.

Eddie Jones resisted temptation to lob any verbal grenades into the Ireland camp but the England coach is convinced that Saturday’s final Six Nations match will be heavily influenced by the aerial battle.

Hence, the 61-year-old Australian has named Elliot Daly at outside centre, to replace the injured Henry Slade, for the first time in five years.

“It is more the game we are anticipating,” said Jones from England’s Teddington base before flying to Dublin on Thursday afternoon. “You play Ireland at Lansdowne Road it is generally a big aerial contest - sorry, the Aviva stadium - and to have someone in your backline with a left foot, which Sladey gave us, is a basic requirement.”

The loss of the Exeter centre forces Jones to select two inexperienced centres on the bench, as Ollie Lawrence and Joe Marchat share just nine caps between them, with Owen Farrell covering outhalf as George Ford appears to have nailed down the 10 jersey.

“Slade is a big part of our team and Elliot can fill the same duties,” Jones explained. “He has had to dig down deep into himself, and find the best of himself, it has been a tough Six Nations for Elliot and I think he is coming back into his best form, and as you know he has a great opportunity in his preferred position.

“If it is a high volume kicking game, which it probably will be, it will be about his work rate and ability to get back on kick returns and his ability to kick chasse is going to be important. He has a great engine on him, Elliott, great defensively and he is a penetrative runner. If we get some quick ball he will cause trouble for them on the outside.”

Besides Elliot for Slade, it is the same England XV that beat France 23-20 in a thrilling encounter at Twickenham, with Bristol’s Max Malins retained at fullback for his eighth cap. Malins’s great grandfather Peter J Kelly was the third president of the GAA in 1889. The Galway native was also a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

Regarding Andy Farrell’s inability to pick Garry Ringrose (ankle) and James Ryan (concussion), Jones replied: “Everyone is missing players, mate.”

Interestingly, Jones compared this match to England’s failure to re-plicate the outstanding performance that saw off New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup semi-final, only to be shut down by South Africa a week later.

“Experience tells us if you are playing a game like [France], like a World Cup semi where there is a lot of ball movement, in the next game, generally, the opposition try to take that away from you, which is sensible.

“The game becomes more attritional, if it happens to go the other way we want to be able to take our opportunities.

“Ireland cut their teeth on having a good lineout. We expect them to be well prepared, well-drilled and they generally carry a team with four jumpers. It will be a good battle.”

England: Max Malins; Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, Jonny May; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, Charlie Ewels; Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola. Replacements: Jamie George, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Jonny Hill, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, Ollie Lawrence, Joe Marchant.

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