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Three debutants in Ireland rugby squad to take on England at Twickenham

RugbyBy Sunday World
Joe Schmidt during Ireland training on Thursday
Joe Schmidt during Ireland training on Thursday

Joe Schmidt has named his squad to take on England at Twickenham on Saturday evening, including two uncapped players in the starting XV.

Head coach Schmidt will hand Ireland debuts to Leinster flanker Josh van der Flier and Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey as he makes five changes for Saturday's clash with England.

Injuries to Jared Payne and Sean O'Brien have forced Schmidt's hand somewhat, but the Kiwi has decided to plump for the inexperienced duo from the start, with uncapped Connacht lock Ultan Dillane named on the bench as the reigning champions go in search of their first win of the campaign.

Van der Flier has seen off competition from Tommy O’Donnell for the No 7 shirt left vacant by O’Brien and the 22-year-old Wesley College and UCD product has been rewarded for outstanding form this season at provincial level.

The main talking point all week was the availability of Jared Payne, who didn’t train on Tuesday as a result of a hamstring injury, and has failed to prove his fitness in time for Saturday.

McCloskey has been handed the 13 jersey, while Keith Earls comes in on the left wing in place of the injured Dave Kearney with Donnacha Ryan stepping in for concussion victim Mike McCarthy in the second-row.

Fit-again Mike Ross returns at tighthead prop, with Nathan White dropping to the bench, while Schmidt has opted to keep Cian Healy in reserve as Jack McGrath continues at loosehead alongside captain Rory Best.

Ireland team to face England: (15-9) R Kearney; A Trimble, S McCloskey, R Henshaw, K Earls; J Sexton, C Murray; (1-8) J McGrath, R Best (capt), M Ross; D Toner, D Ryan; CJ Stander, J Van der Flier, J Heaslip.

Replacements: (16-23) R Strauss, C Healy, N White, U Dillane, R Ruddock, E Reddan, I Madigan, S Zebo.

Earlier today Eddie Jones made two changes to his England team for Saturday's encounter, handing a first start to lock Maro Itoje, with Joe Marler replacing Mako Vunipola in the front row.

Below is the full England team selected to take on Ireland, in the third-round RBS 6 Nations match that kicks off at 4.50pm on Saturday: