How many players will survive from the victory over Georgia?
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Jack Willis has been overlooked by England for Saturday’s clash with Ireland despite impressing on his debut in the Autumn Nations Cup opener against Georgia. Instead, Eddie Jones has turned to Sam Underhill and Lewis Ludlam in his 25-man squad, with the starting XV to be announced on Thursday morning.
Underhill was rested against Georgia but he is on course to return at openside at Willis’ expense, while Ludlam is a surprise pick having not previously been involved in the autumn including the Six Nations-clinching victory over Italy.
Exeter lock Jonny Hill is back having excelled on his debut in Rome, Charlie Ewels making way to accommodate him. Knee-injury victim Joe Marler remains out. George Ford is back in contention after a spell battling an Achilles injury and if fit he could regain the fly-half duties from Owen Farrell, who would move to inside centre, in what would be his first appearance of the autumn.
Here, our rugby writers pick their starting XVs for Saturday’s match. Have your say in the comments section at the bottom.
Back come the big boys, the tried and trusted such as George Ford, in the squad so presumably fit and good to go after injury, one of those core figures in an Eddie Jones set-up that has had the hex on Ireland in their last three meetings. Henry Slade deserves a start in his favoured outside channel while Jonathan Joseph has done well in his wing ‘ libero’ role. No Jack Willis, although would have been a bit much if either Tom Curry and Sam Underhill had lost out. Nothing to choose between Ellis Genge or Mako Vunipola to start.
Mick Cleary's England XV to face Ireland
England have bullied Ireland in their last three meetings, and this England side is laced with the power to dominate the collisions. Joe Launchbury deserves another start, with Maro Itoje back in the second row to accommodate the return of Tom Curry and Sam Underhill. Will Stuart, on the back of his scrummaging performance against Georgia, deserves another go, with Kyle Sinckler making a huge impact off bench. With the power comes the elegance of George Ford back at fly-half, with a return of the England World Cup midfield of Owen Farrell and Henry Slade.
Gavin Mairs's England XV to face Ireland
Will Stuart and Joe Launchbury did nothing to deserve demotion, but I would prefer Jonny Hill’s lineout expertise and the experience of Kyle Sinckler against an imposing Ireland set piece. The midfield is a muddle. On form, Owen Farrell should be the odd man out but hopefully the return of his old mate George Ford can get him back into the groove. I would always find room for Henry Slade in my team, meaning I would probably sacrifice Jonathan Joseph for the pace of Ollie Thorley on the wing.
Daniel Schofield's England XV to face Ireland
Joe Launchbury looked intent on recapturing a starting role against Georgia and it is well worth persevering with Ollie Lawrence – even at the expense of Henry Slade. I would like to see Max Malins for at least half an hour, but George Ford’s return to the backline feels like a selection that would trouble Ireland provided the Leicester Tiger is fully fit. Elsewhere, Will Stuart deserves to retain his place ahead of Kyle Sinckler.
Charlie Morgan's England XV to face Ireland
I’d love to throw Ollie Thorley in here on the right wing, but that seems highly unlikely given he wasn’t deemed ready enough to face Georgia, which still seems bizarre. So, Jonathan Joseph gets another go, providing he’s fit. Otherwise this team picks itself, with Eddie Jones going back to the George Ford and Owen Farrell combination he likes, and Henry Slade back in his best position at 13. The only change if everyone was fit would be whether Jack Nowell or Anthony Watson wore the 14 shirt. Sam Underhill should play like he’s been shot out of a cannon after being rested against Georgia.
Ben Coles's England XV to face Ireland
Mako Vunipola looks sharper with every match. He edges out Ellis Genge. The abrasive style of Jonny Hill will be needed against Ireland. While not a huge fan of Jonathan Joseph on the wing, it seems the sensible selection given the opposition and the lack of experience among alternative options. Ollie Lawrence and Ollie Thorley can be unleashed from the bench, if added physicality in the back division is required.
Jake Goodwill's England XV to face Ireland
Yes, we want England to win, but this is not the Six Nations and for me it is the perfect competition to try things, experiment a little. How else are the likes of Ollie Lawrence, Max Malins and Ollie Thorley going to find out if they can hack it against world-class opposition? I would have stuck with Jack Willis at openside, too, if he hadn’t picked up a knock. Yes, England might lose against a full-strength Ireland, but Eddie Jones will learn a lot more this way than if he picks the players he knows can beat this Irish side. The tried and trusted, like Elliot Daly, George Ford, Joe Launchbury and Mako Vunipola, can come off the bench if and when required.
Giles Mole's England XV to face Ireland
Ireland will be desperate to avenge that drab showing at Twickenham in the Six Nations, so now is not the time for an experimental England. That said, Will Stuart deserves to keep his spot as one of the standout forwards against Georgia, while Jonny Hill’s ability in the shadows will be crucial in stopping O’Mahony et al. The Elliot-Daly-at-full-back experiment has always been underwhelming, but in the squad that Eddie Jones has picked there is not really much other option. Ollie Thorley deserves a shot, while it is imperative that George Ford returns to iron out England’s attacking creases.
Charles Richardson's England XV to face Ireland
HAVE YOUR SAY: Our team of writers have selected their preferred England starting XVs. What do you think of the selections? Have your say in the comments section below and pick your own side to tackle Ireland with the team builder below:
Pick your England XV to face Ireland