Byrne gets nod ahead of Burns for England clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Ross Byrne replaces injured Ireland captain Johnny Sexton at flyhalf in the starting line-up for their Nations Cup match with England at Twickenham on Saturday.
The 25-year-old Byrne is preferred to Billy Burns, who impressed when he came on for his debut replacing Sexton in the first half of the 32-9 victory over Wales last Friday.
However, Byrne already has eight caps to his credit and got the better of Burns when Leinster beat Ulster in September’s Pro14 Final.
Byrne will be partnered at halfback by his Leinster teammate, New Zealand-born Jamison Gibson-Park, who keeps the experienced Conor Murray on the bench after a good performance on his first start against the Welsh.
Two other New Zealand-born players line-up in the backs with Bundee Aki returning in the centres due to the injury to Robbie Henshaw and livewire wing James Lowe also starts.
Hugo Keenan retains the starting spot at fullback even though Jacob Stockdale has recovered from the calf injury that forced him to withdraw from the clash with the Welsh.
James Ryan captains the side in the absence of Sexton and is partnered in the second row by Quinn Roux, who scored one of Ireland’s two tries in the victory over Wales.
Since Ireland clinched the Grand Slam at Twickenham in 2018 they have fared badly against Eddie Jones’s side – their only defeat in their last 20 home Tests coming last year.
They have also been beaten twice at Twickenham with the aggregate score from the last three meetings 113-47 and been outscored 15 tries to six.
Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Peter O’Mahony, 6 CJ Stander, 5 James Ryan (captain), 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Ronan Kelleher, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Will Connors, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Jacob Stockdale.
Date: Saturday, November 21
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
Kick-off: 15.00 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzere
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal, Alex Ruiz
TMO: Nigel Owens