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It's a best case scenario for Ireland with our first choice 8 and 2 back fit. Kelleher isn't risked on the bench, so Herring gets his chance and Treadwell back-fills for Henderson. Gibson Park's outstanding cameo back from injury means he swaps places with Murray. McCloskey loses out on the 12 shirt to Aki and misses out on the 23 shirt to O'Brien because having a specialist 12 (and 10) on the bench would leave us exposed if 11,13, 14,or 15 got injured.

Henshaw comes in for the injured Ringrose, and 23-year-old Baird makes just his third Test start and has an opportunity to really make an impression. Many see him as a six, so his performance in the tight will be watched with interest. He's a match for Itoje athletically, and quite possibly the fastest player in the Irish team. How times have changed for international locks! Gavin Coombes is again unlucky to miss out.

England have also made minimal changes after their mauling by France. Captain Owen Farrell comes in for the benched Marcus Smith and Manu Tuilagi comes in for the injured Ollie Lawrence with David Ribbans replacing the injured Ollie Chessum at lock. 20 year old (ex Ireland qualified) winger Henry Arundell is preferred to Max Malins on the wing.

This is a good England side with the Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, and Owen Farrell midfield axis having caused us plenty of problems in the past. Courtney Lawes will be missed (as will Tadgh Beirne) and I am surprised Dombrandt is retained. His lack of mobility has been cruelly exposed at international level. Opportunity knocks for Henry Arundell but no doubt Ireland will test his defence.

England: 15 Freddie Steward; 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Henry Arundell; 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Jack van Poortvliet; 1 Ellis Genge, 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler; 4 Maro Itoje, 5 David Ribbans; 6 Lewis Ludlam, 7 Jack Willis, 8 Alex Dombrandt. Replacements: Jack Walker, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Nick Isiekwe, Ben Curry, Alex Mitchell, Marcus Smith, Joe Marchant .

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 16th, 2023 at 08:27:26 PM EST

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