By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs back Jack Nowell has been named on the bench by Eddie Jones for England’s final match of the RBS 6 Nations against Ireland at Aviva Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 5pm, live on ITV).
There are two changes to the starting XV that beat Scotland in last weekend’s Calcutta Cup as England retained the RBS 6 Nations and maintained their unbeaten run in the Championship.
Billy Vunipola (Saracens) starts at number 8 having come off the bench against Scotland and in the back line Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby) is named on the right wing. Nowell and Nathan Hughes (Wasps) are the only changes to the bench.
Saturday’s match will see 30-year old back-row forward Tom Wood (Northampton Saints) win his 50th cap for England having made his debut against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in 2011.
“We’ve had a really good week’s preparation,” said England head coach Jones. “The intensity of training has been good. It’s going to be quite an occasion in Dublin so we understand we have to be prepared emotionally, physically and mentally.
“The mood in camp has been positive. We’re very excited ahead of what is a huge opportunity for the players. You sense the intensity has stepped up; it has in training, definitely. The message to the players has been quite simple, we’re playing Ireland on Saturday and that is the only thing that counts. We are focusing on preparing well, the only thing we can control is our preparation.
“Ireland not having anything to play for means they have the courage to fail which frees them up mentally, we are a little bit vulnerable because we have already been crowned the RBS 6 Nations champions and we had a big win against Scotland, so for us it’s getting the right mind-set for the game.
“I congratulate Tom Wood on his personal milestone. He is a committed team man, who has fought his way back into this set-up and has been a great contributor to the team on and off the field. He works very hard and it’s a great reward for him.”
England match-day 23 for the RBS 6 Nations game against Ireland
15. Mike Brown (vice captain, Harlequins, 59 caps)
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 25 caps)
13. Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 32 caps)
12. Owen Farrell (vice captain, Saracens, 51 caps)
11. Elliot Daly (Wasps, 12 caps)
10. George Ford (Bath Rugby, 34 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 69 caps)
1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 50 caps)
2. Dylan Hartley (captain, Northampton Saints, 83 caps)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 73 caps)
4. Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 41 caps)
5. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 57 caps)
6. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 11caps)
7. James Haskell (Wasps, 74 caps)
8. Billy Vunipola (vice captain, Saracens 33 caps)
16. Jamie George (Saracens, 16 caps)
17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 41 caps)
18. Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 7 caps)
19. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 49 caps)
20. Nathan Hughes (Wasps, 7 caps)
21. Danny Care (Harlequins, 70 caps)
22. Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors, 7 caps)
23. Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 22 caps)