Haskell returns for Ireland clash
February 7, 2013
James Haskell returns to the England starting line-up for the first time since last summer's tour of South Africa © Getty Images
James Haskell has been recalled for England's Six Nations match against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Sunday.
The London Wasps forward returns the starting line-up for the first time since last year's tour to South Africa following an injury to No.8 Ben Morgan. Haskell will pack down at blindside flanker with Tom Wood moving to the back of the scrum to fill the void left by Morgan.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster has kept faith with the rest of the side that beat Scotland 38-18 at Twickenham last weekend with centre Billy Twelvetrees holding off the challenge of a fit-again Manu Tuilagi. His Leicester rival has to settle for a place on the bench where he is joined by Tigers team-mate Thomas Waldrom in the only other change to the matchday squad.
Lancaster said: "We were pleased with our intent to play against Scotland. A lot of the players performed very well and with Manu coming back into the equation it gave us some selection decisions. But with the centres playing well last week and Manu still returning to match fitness, having not played for the last four weeks, he and others will give us great options from the bench in what I am sure will be a physical encounter.
"It was good to have Billy Vunipola be able to train with us in the middle of the week but he needs some game time so he and David Strettle will be available for their clubs this weekend."
Sale Sharks' Henry Thomas will travel as the 24th man tight-head prop cover following this evening's Aviva Premiership match against Exeter Chiefs.
Lancaster added: "It's a good position to be in as a coach. The decision was made for me on Tuesday. Manu was injured on January 13 and his first onfield rugby session was Tuesday. To play a full 80 minutes against Ireland after that would be difficult for any player.
"I looked at the best way to give the team the best chance to win on Sunday and went with Manu off the bench. I'm sure he will be a handful. It (the decision) also says a lot about the performances by Billy and Brad last week as well.
"Billy was quietly pleased with his debut although he doesn't shout it from the rooftops. He gives us another dimension to our attacking game and he deserves to keep his place. Brad has been outstandingly consistent and had another good game for us at the weekend.
"When you weigh the situation up, when you look at what they (Twelvetrees and Barritt) have done and what Manu had not done then that was what led to the decision."
Lancaster also insisted he had no qualms about throwing Twelvetrees into the cauldron that will be the Aviva Stadium. "Experience counts for something but it doesn't count for everything for me," he said. "There is lots of quality that we've got that we can bring on in the second half.
"Dylan (Hartley) was close, as was Danny Care and Courtney Laws. But Joe Launchbury and Tom Youngs both had strong games against Scotland. We have got to reward the players that are playing well.
"It's a good message to players that you have to earn the right to get back in the team. It doesn't matter who you are or what you've done."
England: Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt, Billy Twelvetrees, Mike Brown; Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole; Joe Launchbury, Geoff Parling; James Haskell, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw (capt).
Replacements: Dylan Hartley, Mako Vunipola, David Wilson, Courtney Lawes, Thomas Waldrom, Danny Care, Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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