Ireland unchanged as England opt for Flood
February 24, 2009
Ireland coach Declan Kidney has decided to stick with the side that defeated Italy 38-9 for the Six Nations visit of England to Croke Park on Saturday.
Paddy Wallace has recovered from the facial injury that caused him to leave the field early against France and Italy, and he partners Brian O'Driscol in the centre. O'Driscoll will win his 91st cap, while Ronan O'Gara wins his 90th and joins O'Driscoll, John Hayes and Malcolm O'Kelly as the only Irishmen to cross the 90-cap mark.
In the sole change to the squad, Munster lock Mick O'Driscoll replaces O'Kelly as cover in the second-row. Many had speculated that Leinster centre Gordon D'Arcy may force his way in to the starting side, but Wallace has retained his place under scrutiny from the management.
"We went through the whole team selection. The team are training so well and we took that into account," said Kidney. "The lads who came on as subs in the first two matches have put their hands up, as have the guys on Magners League duty at the weekend.
"Second row is probably one of the most sought-after positions in the set-up. Mick had been going well prior to getting the shoulder injury and he played very well in the Magners League on the weekend, so I felt he deserved his chance. I'm sure Malcolm will force his way back into the side."
England manager Martin Johnson has selected Leicester's Toby Flood at fly-half f with Brive's Andy Goode dropping to the bench.
Flood is the seventh player to wear the England No.10 jersey in just 10 games and will be charged with negating the threat of Ireland's dangerous backs division.
Elsewhere the side is that same as that which turned in an improved performance in defeat against Wales, with Wasps' Joe Worsley retaining the openside berth and his club-mates James Haskell and Riki Flutey, both bound for France at the end of the season, retaining their places at blindside and centre respectively.
The only change to the 22 comes on the bench where London Irish scrum-half Paul Hodgson makes way for Danny Care, who has recovered from the ankle injury that kept him out of England's opening two games.
Ireland: Robert Kearney (UCD - Leinster), Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Brian O'Driscoll (UCD - Leinster, capt), Paddy Wallace (Ballymena - Ulster), Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College - Leinster), Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution - Munster), Tomas O'Leary (Dolphin - Munster), Marcus Horan (Shannon - Munster), Jerry Flannery (Shannon - Munster), John Hayes (Bruff- Munster), Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution - Munster), Paul O'Connell (Young Munster - Munster), Stephen Ferris (Dungannon - Ulster), David Wallace (Garryowen - Munster), Jamie Heaslip (Naas - Leinster)
Replacements: Rory Best (Banbridge - Ulster), Tom Court (Malone - Ulster), Mick O'Driscoll (Cork Constitution - Munster), Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution - Munster), Peter Stringer (Shannon - Munster), Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne - Leinster), Geordan Murphy (Leicester)
England: Delon Armitage (London Irish); Paul Sackey (Wasps), Mike Tindall (Gloucester), Riki Flutey (Wasps), Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks); Toby Flood (Leicester), Harry Ellis (Leicester); Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks), Lee Mears (Bath), Phil Vickery (Wasps), Steve Borthwick (Saracens, capt), Nick Kennedy (London Irish), James Haskell (Wasps), Joe Worsley (Wasps), Nick Easter (Harlequins).
Replacements: Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Julian White (Leicester), Tom Croft (Leicester), Luke Narraway (Gloucester), Danny Care (Harlequins), Andy Goode (Brive), Matthew Tait (Sale Sharks).
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Christophe Berdos (France), Peter Allan (Scotland)