Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has backed Ross Byrne to lead Ireland to victory over England in the absence of Johnny Sexton.
Farrell has made four changes to the starting line-up that claimed a comfortable 32-9 victory over Wales, putting faith in a number of inexperienced players.
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While Ireland’s last two outings have not gone to plan, the head coach explained at the team announcement press conference that he is confident in his selections.
“I’m excited about it. There are a few changes in there, the big one being James getting to lead this side, and for guys getting the opportunity for first starts at Twickenham.”
“Ross Byrne deserves it. He deserves his chance. It’s like others. How do you find out if they are ready for the big games and big occasions, without giving them a chance in the big occasions?” Farrell commented.
“You look at Conor [Murray] and Johnny [Sexton], they had to get that experience somewhere. They had to be trusted to play in big games like this.
“When they started running the show on the big occasion, like this game is, it stands them in good stead for the future.
“That’s how you gain experience. The two lads are at the other end of their journey but they’re more than capable of pulling it out of the bag,” Farrell explained.
The England captain Owen Farrell is, of course, the Ireland’s head coach’s son and will provide a daunting challenge for Ross Byrne.
While the younger Farrell is currently one of rugby’s most accomplished fly halves, the head coach insisted he was not worried for his stand-in number 10.
“I’ve no concerns whatsoever. He’ll play his own game. Everyone is different. I’ve no concerns about Ross. He’s very cool, calm and collected,” Farrell said.
The two sides are due to meet at Twickenham Stadium at 3pm on Saturday, in a game that will go a long way in deciding the eventual winners of the Autumn Nations Cup.