16 March 2023

Henry Arundell set for first England start against Ireland

16 March 2023

Henry Arundell will start for the first time when England attempt to gatecrash Ireland’s Grand Slam party at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Arundell has replaced Max Malins on the left wing in the hope that the most exciting talent in English rugby can produce the magic needed to topple the world’s number one-ranked side.

The 20-year-old try-scoring sensation has won all six of his previous caps off the bench and will add X-factor to the backline.

Owen Farrell is restored at fly-half after being dropped for the 53-10 defeat by France last Saturday, with Marcus Smith demoted to the bench to accommodate the England captain.

Head coach Steve Borthwick has made one of two enforced changes at inside centre where Manu Tuilagi replaces hamstring-injury victim Ollie Lawrence.

Tuilagi makes his first appearance of the Guinness Six Nations having initially been frozen out by Borthwick and then receiving a three-match ban for dangerous play on club duty for Sale.

The powerful 31-year-old has made all six of his previous appearances against Ireland and forms a midfield trio alongside Farrell and Henry Slade that was last seen during the 2019 World Cup.

Breakout second row Ollie Chessum sustained an ankle injury in training on Tuesday so David Ribbans is drafted into the starting XV in the only adjustment to the pack mauled by France.

Apart from the promotion of Arundell and Farrell and the necessary changes at centre and lock, Borthwick has given the same XV that collapsed to the nation’s record Championship defeat a chance to redeem themselves.

Number eight Alex Dombrandt and scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet are particularly fortunate to retain their places after struggling noticeably against Les Bleus.

Replacement tighthead prop Dan Cole will win his 100th cap if he steps off the bench having made his debut 13 years earlier.

Back five forward Nick Isiekwe and versatile back Joe Marchant have been given replacement roles, but Malins has been jettisoned from the 23 altogether.

“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,” Borthwick said.

“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.

“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.”

Borthwick insists England enter their final Six Nations assignment with the conviction they are on the right path despite the “painful” France debacle.

“Everybody around the team – players, coaches, management team – found last weekend’s result and performance painful. It hurts,” Borthwick told reporters in Dublin.

“Every one of us this week has worked together to get an improved performance on Saturday. We’re excited about this game and believe in what we’re trying to do.

“We understand we have a lot of work to do. I’ve been up front about the gap and our job this week is to keep trying to accelerate our development. We have a lot of catching up to do.”

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