With Joey Carbery’s injury ruling the Munster player out of this game (and perhaps the tournament), Joe Schmidt is in no mood to risk Sexton at this stage and so Leinster’s Ross Byrne gets his full debut at outside-half. Byrne is undoubtedly a more limited player than the two ahead of him in the queue, but anyone who saw his gutsy display vs Ulster in the Heineken Cup quarters, scoring 16 points including a winning penalty while on one leg from injury, will know that the aforementioned minerals are not wanting in this fella. Expect him to follow Biggar’s lead and put Daly and Cokanasiga under some aerial pressure at every opportunity. Beyond this it’s very much a first choice squad.
England fans get to see Tom Curry and Sam Underhill in the same back row, a potentially lip-lickingly good mix of exuberance, jackal and big tackles. The return battle between Curry and Van der Flier over the ball is something to look forward to.
For the first time Ford-Farrell-Tuilagi starts for England, or to put it another way: Craft-Composure-Smash, potentially quite a handy mix. Ford wobbled last week, particularly kicking out of hand, and today we’ll see whether Farrell can once again serve as the comfort blanket of the partnership and serenely coax Ford to the state of solace he needs to play his best. Alternatively, Farrell could go another way and have a full on purple-faced anger meltdown, which is sometimes his wont.
England: Daly; Cokanasiga, Tuilagi, Farrell, May; Ford, Youngs; Marler, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Kruis, Curry, Underhill, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, M Vunipola, Cole, Lawes, Wilson, Heinz, Francis, Marchant.
Ireland: R Kearney; Larmour, Ringrose, Aki, Stockdale; R Byrne, Murray; Healy, Best, Furlong, Henderson, Kleyn; O’Mahony, Van der Flier, Stander.
Replacements: Cronin, J McGrath, Porter, Toner, Beirne, L McGrath, Carty, Conway.