Eddie Jones has recalled Billy Vunipola and Anthony Watson to his starting XV for England’s Grand Slam clash with Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
England head to Dublin knowing that history beckons on not one but two fronts. Victory over Joe Schmidt’s side would see England break New Zealand’s record for consecutive Test Match victories (18) and they would also become the first side to win back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams.
England produced their most clinical display under Jones in round four as they scored seven superb tries beating Scotland 61-21 at Twickenham. Both Watson and Vunipola made try scoring returns from the bench on that afternoon and now return to the starting line-up.
Vunipola replaces Nathan Hughes at number eight, completing a remarkable recovery from a knee injury which looked set to keep him out of the entire tournament. However through hard work and determination the world’s leading number eight returns to the field.
Watson is another who entered the competition with injury worries, but he too has made a speedy recovery and brings a lethal finishing edge to the English back-three.
On the other wing Elliot Daly retains his place, despite playing just 10-minutes against Scotland after a head injury, but the flying Wasps star has passed the required tests to play the game.
The midfield axis of George Ford, Owen Farrell and Jonathan Joseph will once again be crucial to England’s chances and the trio will be looking for a similar performance to the one they produced against Scotland.
While Tom Wood will win his 50th England cap should he be required from the bench.
England ready for “huge opportunity” says Jones
Ahead of the game Jones said: “We’re very excited ahead of a huge opportunity. It’s going to be quite an occasion in Dublin so we understand we have to be prepared emotionally, physically and mentally.
“Ireland not having anything to play for means they have the courage to fail which frees them up mentally.
“We are a little bit vulnerable because we have already been crowned the Six Nations champions and we had a big win against Scotland, so for us it’s getting the right mind-set for the game.”
This is going to be a cracking game!
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