Borthwick brings England's big guns back
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: England captain Owen Farrell was recalled to the starting XV for the Six Nations climax against Grand Slam-chasing Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
Another big gun, Manu Tuilagi, is back in midfield.
Farrell was on the bench for last week’s humiliating 10-53 loss to title contenders France at Twickenham – England’s heaviest home defeat of all time.
But he returns instead of benched Harlequins playmaker Marcus Smith to face a world No.1-ranked Ireland team coached by his father, Andy Farrell.
Tuilagi takes over from Ollie Lawrence after his fellow centre was ruled out with hamstring trouble.
The 31-year-old Tuilagi will be making his first appearance of this Six Nations having initially been discarded at the start of new England coach Steve Borthwick’s reign before being ruled out by a three-match ban for dangerous play with club side Sale.
He will form a midfield trio alongside Farrell and Henry Slade that was last seen during a 2019 World Cup in Japan, where England made it all the way to the Final before losing to South Africa.
Elsewhere in the backs, Borthwick has given a first Test start to rising star Henry Arundell, with the 20-year-old replacing Max Malins on the left wing.
All six caps won so far by the London Irish flyer have come off the bench, with Arundell making brief appearances in the last three rounds of the Six Nations after missing last year’s Autumn campaign with a foot injury.
Borthwick has made only one, and enforced, change to a pack overwhelmed by France, with David Ribbans replacing Ollie Chessum after the lock sustained an ankle injury in training on Tuesday.
Replacement tighthead prop Dan Cole will win his 100th cap if he comes off the bench at Lansdowne Road, having made his England debut 13 years ago.
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“We travel to Dublin to face an Ireland team that has the chance to secure a Grand Slam Championship victory at home for the first time,” said Borthwick.
“We know that after the bitter disappointment of the display against an exceptional France side, we will have to be much improved to meet the challenge of playing the side presently ranked number one in the world.”
But the 43-year-old former England captain added: “However, I have witnessed an England squad determined to make amends for the defeat at Twickenham.
“I’m confident that the team announced will once again want to show the sort of resilience and attitude that brought us victory in Wales.”
England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Henry Arundell, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Jack Willis, 6 Lewis Ludlam, 5 David Ribbans, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Joe Marchant.
Date: Saturday, March 18
Venue: Lansdowne Road, Dublin
Kick-off: 17.00 (17.00 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)