Eddie Jones has been forced into numerous changes for England’s Six Nations clash with Ireland on Sunday, with George Furbank ruled out with injury and Manu Tuilagi fit to return to trigger a major back-line reshuffle.
The head coach has brought four fresh faces into the starting line-up that defeated Scotland 13-6 last time out, with Tuilagi joining Joe Marler, Courtney Lawes and Ben Youngs in returning to the side.
Furbank failed a fitness assessment on Friday morning to rule the 22-year-old out of the side, and with Anthony Watson also still on the sidelines, Elliot Daly is required to move back to the full-back berth that he vacated following the Rugby World Cup.
Jones has left Gloucester wing Ollie Thorley out of the squad completely once again, having instead elected to move Jonathan Joseph onto the wing for his first start in the position as he prepares to win his 50th cap. Jonny May meanwhile remains on the right wing.
Tuilagi joins captain Owen Farrell in the centres, with Youngs returning to partner George Ford at half-back as Willi Heinz drops to the replacements.
With Mako Vunipola unavailable after travelling to Tonga for family reasons, Marler is given the nod ahead of Ellis Genge to start at loosehead prop, with Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler remaining in the front row, while the locks remain untouched in the partnership of Maro Itoje and George Kruis.
There is one change in the back row however as Lawes replaces Lewis Ludlam, who is dropped from the matchday squad completely.
Jones has once again decided to go with a six-two split on the bench in favour of the forwards, with Luke Cowan-Dickie, Genge and Will Stuart joined by two locks in Joe Launchbury and Charlie Ewels, with Ben Earl once again providing cover for the back three after making his debut last time out in the Calcutta Cup. Henry Slade is fit enough to return to the squad after recovering from a fractured ankle, with the Exeter utility back joining Heinz as the only backs cover on the bench.
“We’ve had a really good training week with Thursday probably our best session of the Six Nations,” Jones said. “Ireland are a very good team, extremely well-coached. They are a team we respect a lot. They will bring their usual physicality and under Andy Farrell they’ve opened up their game a little bit.
“They are a tactically smart team. (Conor) Murray and (Johnny) Sexton, who have played 170 Tests between them, at nine and 10 will manage the game well. We’ve got to make sure we match their physicality and their emotion on the weekend.
“We trained at Twickenham Stadium in front of 10,000 fans last Friday and we can’t wait to get back out there in front of 80,000 people on Sunday.”
England team to face Ireland:
Elliot Daly; Jonny May, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, Jonathan Joseph; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, George Kruis; Courtney Lawes, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry.
Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Joe Launchbury, Charlie Ewels, Ben Earl, Willi Heinz, Henry Slade.