Ross Byrne to make first Ireland start since August 2019 against England

13:20pm, Wed 18 Nov 2020
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Fly-half Ross Byrne will make his first Ireland start since August 2019 in Saturday’s clash with England, while Jamison Gibson-Park retains the scrum-half role ahead of Conor Murray.

Head coach Andy Farrell has made four changes to his starting XV for the Autumn Nations Cup game in London.

Byrne, whose only previous start came in a 57-15 drubbing at Twickenham before last year’s World Cup, has been given the nod to replace injured captain Johnny Sexton and win his ninth cap in preference to fellow international rookie Billy Burns.

Long-serving half-back Murray must again be content with a place on the bench after New Zealand-born Gibson-Park impressed in Friday’s 32-9 victory over Wales.

Centre Bundee Aki replaces the injured Robbie Henshaw in midfield, with flanker CJ Stander and winger Keith Earls the other men recalled by Farrell.

Lock James Ryan has been confirmed as stand-in captain after veteran Sexton was ruled out with a hamstring problem sustained against the Welsh.

Meanwhile, Bath-born Burns, who represented England at under-20 level, has been named among the replacements against the country of his birth having made his debut from the bench last time out.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell, right, has named Conor Murray on the bench for the second successive week (PA Archive)

Lock Iain Henderson and full-back Jacob Stockdale are back among the replacements after fitness issues kept them sidelined last week.

Winger Andrew Conway and flanker Josh Van Der Flier – who started the win over Wayne Pivac’s men – drop out of the squad completely.

Farrell hailed last week’s Dublin success as a “dominant” performance.

Skipper Ryan is again partnered in the second row by last week’s try-scorer Quinn Roux, behind an unchanged front row of Cian Healy, Ronan Kelleher and Andrew Porter.

James Ryan File Photo (PA Wire)

Caelan Doris, the standout performer against Wales, retains his place at number eight, with Stander coming in at blindside flanker and Peter O’Mahony switching sides to the number seven position vacated by Van Der Flier.

Henshaw’s groin strain means Aki joins Chris Farrell in midfield.

With Stockdale having been struggling with a calf problem, Hugo Keenan keeps the full-back role. Wingers James Lowe and Earls complete the back three.

Rob Herring, Ed Byrne, Finlay Bealham and Will Connors join Henderson, Murray, Burns and Jacob Stockdale on the bench.

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