Ireland notched their second consecutive win in the 2021 Six Nations against Scotland in Edinburgh, but the performance was far from perfect.
Plenty of players put in arguably their best performance of the championship so far at Murrayfield, but others haven’t done enough to retain their place for the game against England.
Below is the team we think should take on England.
“We wanted to build on the Italy week and we came here knowing we needed to win. Hopefully we can train well next week and we’re going to play against a great England team. It’ll be a great match up.” 💪🟢#ShoulderToShoulder #IrishRugby #GuinnessSixNations pic.twitter.com/DF13xXM9ej
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) March 15, 2021
Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong
Ireland are currently blessed with great options in the front row, and any combination of the six players used in this Six Nations would likely do well against England.
However, Cian Healy and Rob Herring were not at their best against Scotland and just don’t offer as much in the loose as Kilcoyne and Kelleher.
Porter was outstanding for Ireland in Furlong’s absence, but the possibility of seeing another side step from the Wexford man is just impossible to resist.
Tadhg Beirne and Iain Henderson
James Ryan is unlikely to be available for this Saturday after suffering a head knock late on against Scotland, which is unfortunate because the Leinster lock was exceptional in the lineout at Murrayfield.
Thankfully, the lock pairing of Beirne and Henderson will be more than up for the challenge at the Aviva Stadium, following a great performance from each man against Scotland.
Beirne has played as a flanker in his last two player of the match-winning performances, but a switch back to second row shouldn’t affect his game too much.
CJ Stander, Will Connors and Jack Conan
All three back row players were impressive against Scotland, but the need to shift Beirne to the second row has created an opportunity for Conan to come in at number eight.
The Wicklow man has been in fine form for Leinster in recent times and looked good in his two short stints off the bench, earning a recall to the starting team.
Peter O’Mahony is available having served his suspension, but despite his experience, he will be lacking in game time compared to the other back rowers available.
Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton
While Jamison Gibson-Park has played well enough for Ireland in Murray’s absence, Ireland’s insistence on frequent box kicks just doesn’t suit the Leinster scrum-half’s style of play.
Farrell is clearly a fan of the former Hurricanes player, having kept him on for the full match against Scotland, but Murray’s superior accuracy trumps Gibson-Park’s speed in relation to Ireland’s game plan.
Sexton played his best game of the championship against Scotland and is an obvious choice to continue at fly-half.
Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose
The most consistent positions in Ireland’s starting team, Farrell should stick with Henshaw and Ringrose for the pair’s fifth consecutive start in the Six Nations.
Ringrose had a poor game against Scotland, but overall he has played well in this year’s championship and rarely, if ever, has two bad games in a row.
Henshaw was one of Ireland’s best against the Scots and must currently be one of the first names down on the teamsheet.
Jordan Larmour, Keith Earls and Hugo Keenan
James Lowe has started in all four of Ireland’s 2021 Six Nations matches, but is just not up to international standard in defence and needs to be dropped.
Larmour has been given few opportunities in this year’s championship but offers plenty in attack and is a relatively reliable defender on the wing.
Keenan is almost unchallenged for the role of Ireland’s starting fullback at present, thanks to an extremely safe pair of hands and his cool head.
Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Josh van der Flier, Jamison Gibson-Park, Billy Burns and Jacob Stockdale
The replacement front row picks itself based on the starting three, while Baird has shown plenty of promise in his two cameos in test rugby.
Van der Flier wasn’t at his best in the first two rounds of the Six Nations, but is a reliable option off the bench at openside flanker.
Stockdale has looked good in his two games for Ulster after coming back from injury, and could provide a real spark off the bench late on in the match.