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Two changes for England ahead of potentially historic Ireland clash

PUBLISHED: 10:10 16 March 2017 | UPDATED: 10:10 16 March 2017

England's Maro Itoje is takled by Scotland's Cornell Du Preez during the RBS Six Nations match at Twickenham. Picture: DAVID DAVIES/PA WIRE

England's Maro Itoje is takled by Scotland's Cornell Du Preez during the RBS Six Nations match at Twickenham. Picture: DAVID DAVIES/PA WIRE

PA Wire/PA Images

Billy Vunipola is one of two changes for England as they chase history at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Victory over Ireland on Saturday would not only be a record 19th consecutive test win but also clinch back-to-back grand slams for the first time since the five nations became six.

Head coach Eddie Jones brings the Saracens man in at no.8 with Anthony Watson on the wing the only other change from the starting XV who demolished Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday.

Vunipola starts alongside Saracens’ team mates Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell while brother Mako and hooker Jamie George will come off the bench.

Jack Nowell and Nathan Hughes are the only changes to the bench.

“We’ve had a really good week’s preparation,” said Jones. “The intensity of training has been good. It’s going to be quite an occasion in Dublin so we understand we have to be prepared emotionally, physically and mentally.

“The mood in camp has been positive. We’re very excited ahead of what is a huge opportunity for the players. You sense the intensity has stepped up; it has in training, definitely.

“The message to the players has been quite simple, we’re playing Ireland on Saturday and that is the only thing that counts. We are focusing on preparing well, the only thing we can control is our preparation.

“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 RBS 6 Nations champions and we had a big win against Scotland, so for us it’s getting the right mind-set for the game.”

England match-day 23 for the RBS 6 Nations game against Ireland

15. Mike Brown (vice captain, Harlequins, 59 caps)

14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 25 caps)

13. Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 32 caps)

12. Owen Farrell (vice captain, Saracens, 51 caps)

11. Elliot Daly (Wasps, 12 caps)

10. George Ford (Bath Rugby, 34 caps)

9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 69 caps)

1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 50 caps)

2. Dylan Hartley (captain, Northampton Saints, 83 caps)

3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 73 caps)

4. Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 41 caps)

5. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 57 caps)

6. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 11caps)

7. James Haskell (Wasps, 74 caps)

8. Billy Vunipola (vice captain, Saracens 33 caps)

Substitutes

16. Jamie George (Saracens, 16 caps)

17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 41 caps)

18. Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 7 caps)

19. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 49 caps)

20. Nathan Hughes (Wasps, 7 caps)

21. Danny Care (Harlequins, 70 caps)

22. Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors, 7 caps)

23. Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 22 caps)


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