Elliot Daly has held off the challenge of Mike Brown at full-back for England’s Guinness Six Nations clash with Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.
Daly has started the last seven Tests in the position but Brown’s expertise under the high ball made him a strong contender to oust his rival.
England are expecting an aerial bombardment from Ireland half-backs Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray.
More accustomed to playing outside centre or wing, Daly’s frailty in the air was exposed last autumn.
Manu Tuilagi has been selected at inside centre – where he has played little rugby – to make his first Six Nations start in six years following an injury-blighted spell, profiting from Ben Te’o’s side strain.
Henry Slade continues at 13, Jack Nowell lines-up on the left wing and Owen Farrell resumes his half-back partnership with Ben Youngs.
“I just felt for this game the best option was to play Owen Farrell at 10 and Manu as a like-for-like replacement for Ben Te’o. Manu has impressed us at the training camp, and is right to play,” Eddie Jones said.
The only surprise in the pack is the absence of Joe Launchbury, who has recovered from the knee injury that forced him to miss the autumn but is unable to even win a place on the bench.
George Kruis is preferred as Maro Itoje’s partner in the second row while prop Mako Vunipola and number eight Billy Vunipola are back after recovering from their respective calf and arm injuries.
“It is nice to have Mako and Billy back. Mako is obviously a world-class loose head,”Jones said.
“We missed him during the autumn but he has come back in good nick and really committed to be the best he can be.
“With Billy we haven’t had him for a long time. He’s also in great nick and ready to play well for us.”
Replacement scrum-half Dan Robson is the only uncapped player in the 23, with the starting XV containing a total of 485 caps.
“I think it is quite clear to beat Ireland you have to beat them in the contest area,” Jones said.
“They are very good at the breakdown and in the air. Both those areas are a priority for us.
“Traditionally England and Ireland games are always very close, they are tough affairs, there is a lot of emotion in the games so our ability to finish the game strongly is going to be vital.
“It’s well documented no one thinks we can win but I can tell you everyone inside our camp believes we can win. We are hugely looking forward to the weekend.”News Now - Sport News