The teams have been announced for the Ireland v England Six Nations match on Saturday 18th at the Aviva Stadium. Kick off 17:00. 

Ireland have made three changes with Jared Payne, Kieran Marmion and Iain Henderson coming in for Rob Kearney, Conor Murray and Devin Toner respectively. Luke McGrath and Andrew Conway join the replacements. 

England have brought in Billy Vunipola at number 8 and Anthony Watson is named on the right wing. 

The inclusion of Payne should strengthen what was a fairly hapless backline against Wales. However, they are still fairly light out wide with Earls and Zebo continuing and I’d guess that most of Payne’s skills will be tested in defence. The inclusion of Conway screams that a defensive game has been prepared for. 

Ireland will try and win this one up front and if that is the case they will need a substantially more focused and vigorous game than the one they had against Wales where the back row were completely outplayed. I suspect Henderson is in as a second row/extra back row but I’d rather have seen O’Mahoney in there as well. 

Steady scrums, good lineouts and a solid kick and chase will be the main focus for Ireland with the hope that Sexton, Ringrose or, more likely, Payne can add something different. And you know what, it might just be enough. 

Despite their unbeaten run, it’s not an English team sheet that has me quivering in my boots. They have plenty of pace in the backs and can be rambunctious enough up front but the Irish team know them well and know that they can crack under pressure. If Ireland can keep them in range and keep poking at them, well, you never know. 

The FRU Predicts: Ireland to win by less than 4 in a scrappy but tense match. I’ll take that! 

Jared Payne 15 Mike Brown
Keith Earls 14 Anthony Watson
Garry Ringrose 13 Jonathan Joseph
Robbie Henshaw 12 Owen Farrell
Simon Zebo 11 Elliot Daly
Jonathan Sexton 10 George Ford
Kieran Marmion 9 Ben Youngs
Jack McGrath 1 Joe Marler
Rory Best 2 Dylan Hartley
Tadhg Furlong 3 Dan Cole
Donnacha Ryan 4 Joe Launchbury
Iain Henderson 5 Courtney Lawes
CJ Stander 6 Maro Itoje
Sean O’Brien 7 James Haskell
Jamie Heaslip 8 Billy Vunipola
Niall Scannell 16 Jamie George
Cian Healy 17 Mako Vunipola
John Ryan 18 Kyle Sinckler
Devin Toner 19 Tom Wood
Peter O’Mahony 20 Nathan Hughes
Luke McGrath 21 Danny Care
Paddy Jackson 22 Ben Te’o
Andrew Conway 23 Jack Nowell

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