green giant Johnny Sexton set to return to starting line-up as Ireland target England scalp
Andy Farrell looks set to restore captain Johnny Sexton to his team for Saturday’s crunch Six Nations clash with England at Twickenham.
The head coach will name his team for the game this morning and after missing the defeat to France with injury and coming off the bench against Italy, Sexton is expected to be restored to the No 10 jersey for the Round Four fixture, with Joey Carbery reverting to the bench.
With Andrew Porter out owing to an ankle issue, Farrell is expected to call on Cian Healy from the start with Munster’s Dave Kilcoyne on the bench.
He has a big choice to make in the second-row where there is a temptation to play Iain Henderson from the start, but Farrell may opt to keep the Ulster skipper in reserve and leave Tadhg Beirne alongside James Ryan.
Ireland will be wary of England’s lineout strength and, in particular, Courtney Lawes’ presence on the blindside.
As such, Farrell may opt against changing the back-row of Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris that started against Italy. He has the option of restoring Jack Conan to No 8 and moving Doris to No 6, while Beirne could also be a contender for the blindside role.
Behind the scrum, Jamison Gibson-Park is set to partner Sexton as Bundee Aki is favoured to keep Robbie Henshaw on the bench and partner Garry Ringrose.
With Hugo Keenan set to start at full-back and James Lowe expected to keep the left-wing berth, there’s a close call between Mack Hansen and Andrew Conway on the right.
England coach Eddie Jones will also name his team today and is expected to keep faith in scrum-half Harry Randall to partner Marcus Smith, with Joe Marchant coming in for Elliot Daly in the centre.
Jamie George is tipped to start at hooker, with Sam Simmonds replacing Alex Dombrandt at No 8.
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