George Ford back on bench as Eddie Jones makes four changes to England side for Ireland clash

Will Macpherson
·2-min read
The fit-again Ford is only among the replacements for the Autumn Nations Cup clash (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The fit-again Ford is only among the replacements for the Autumn Nations Cup clash (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

George Ford will be back on the bench as Eddie Jones makes four changes to his England side for what he has described as “the most important game of the season” against Ireland on Saturday.

Fly-half Ford has missed the first two matches of England’s Autumn campaign and has not played at all since October 4 due to an Achilles injury.

Jones has opted to name him on the bench on his return, sticking with an unchanged backline. Jonathan Joseph has overcome a back injury to start on the wing – as he did against Ireland in the Six Nations – while Ollie Lawrence retains his place after making his first start last Saturday.

That game, against Georgia, was England’s Autumn Nations Cup opener, but greater challenges await. England face Ireland on Saturday at Twickenham, then Wales in Llanelli next weekend before a finals fixture. Ireland have already beaten Wales 32-9 in Dublin.

Jones has made changes up front, however. He has recalled Mako Vunipola and Kyle Sinckler at prop after Ellis Genge and Will Stuart did a fine job in the 40-0 win over the Georgians last weekend.

Maro Itoje switches back to lock in place of Charlie Ewels, with flankers Tom Curry and Sam Underhill recalled. Jack Willis is left out after a try-scoring debut last week. Exeter lock Jonny Hill returns to the matchday 23 with a spot on the bench, where Max Malins retains his place.

“I’ve picked the strongest team possible for the most important game of our season,” said Jones.

Eddie Jones watches his England players in trainingPOOL/AFP via Getty Images
Eddie Jones watches his England players in trainingPOOL/AFP via Getty Images

“We have the highest respect for the Ireland and their coach Andy Farrell. They’ve had good preparation with two wins and a dominant display against Wales, and we will need to be at our best on Saturday.

“We’ve trained well this week, we’re expecting a tough, physical game against Ireland and we’ve reflected that in our sessions. We’ll look to lift our performance even higher and are looking forward to a really good game of rugby.”

Ireland named their team yesterday, showing four changes to the win over Wales six days ago, with Ross Byrne chosen over former England U20s fly-half Billy Burns to replace the injured Johnny Sexton.

England XV to face Ireland: 15. E. Daly, 14. J. Joseph, 13 O. Lawrence, 12 H. Slade, 11 J. May, 10 O. Farrell, 9 B. Youngs, 1 M. Vunipola, 2 J. George, 3 K. Sinckler, 4 M. Itoje, 5 J. Launchbury, 6 T. Curry, 7 S. Underhill, 8 B. Vunipola

Replacements: 16 T. Dunn, 17 E. Genge, 18 W. Stuart, 19 J. Hill, 20 B. Earl, 21 D. Robson, 22 G. Ford, 23 M. Malins

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