Thursday 21 September 2017

Joe Schmidt hands Ireland debuts to Van Der Flier and McCloskey for England clash

Schmidt expects McCloskey to be given a stern test of his defensive examinations by Owen Farrell and Jonathan Joseph

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will hand Ireland debuts to Leinster flanker Josh van der Flier and Ulster's Stuart McCloskey as he makes five changes for Saturday's clash with England.

Injuries to Jared Payne and Sean O'Brien has forced Schmidt's hand somewhat, but the Kiwi has decided to plump for the inexperienced duo from the start, with uncapped Ultan Dillane named on the bench as the reigning champions go in search of their first win of the campaign.

Van der Flier has seen off competition from Tommy O’Donnell for the No 7 shirt left vacant by O’Brien and the 22-year-old Wesley College and UCD product has been rewarded for outstanding form this season at provincial level.

“Josh van der Flier has been a player who has impressed right through the season,” said Schmidt. “He gets an opportunity and a huge responsibility to go out and capture that seven jersey in what will be a really tough test for him.

The main talking point all week was the availability of Jared Payne, who didn’t train on Tuesday as a result of a hamstring injury, and has failed to prove his fitness in time for Saturday.

Robbie Henshaw has been handed the 13 jersey, with McCloskey starting at inside centre. Schmidt doesn't want the Ulster midfielder to feel inhibited, but is wary of the priority of his defensive duties.

“Stuart has some impressive elements to his game that we want to get the most from.

“For him, again, we want him to express himself but he has a responsibility to be as watertight as we can be in what will be a tough area to defend in some of the wing plays they play coming through there and with Owen Farrell and Jonathan Joseph testing him.”

Keith Earls comes in on the left wing in place of the injured Dave Kearney, while Donnacha Ryan steps in for concussion victim Mike McCarthy in the second-row.

Fit-again Mike Ross returns at tighthead prop, with Nathan White dropping to the bench, while Schmidt has opted to keep Cian Healy in reserve as Jack McGrath continues at loosehead alongside captain Rory Best.

Earlier today Eddie Jones made two changes to his England team for Saturday's encounter, handing a first start to lock Maro Itoje, with Joe Marler replacing Mako Vunipola in the front row.

Ireland team to face England: R Kearney; A Trimble, njuries to Jared Payne and Sean O'Brien has forced Schmidt's hand somewhat, but the Kiwi has decided to plump for the inexperienced duo from the start, with uncapped Ultan Dillane named on the bench as the reigning champions go in search of their first win of the campaign.

Van der Flier has seen off competition from Tommy O’Donnell for the No 7 shirt left vacant by O’Brien and the 22-year-old Wesley College and UCD product has been rewarded for outstanding form this season at provincial level.

The main talking point all week was the availability of Jared Payne, who didn’t train on Tuesday as a result of a hamstring injury, and has failed to prove his fitness in time for Saturday.

McCloskey has been handed the 13 jersey, with Keith Earls comes in on the left wing in place of the injured Dave Kearney, while Donnacha Ryan steps in for concussion victim Mike McCarthy in the second-row.

Fit-again Mike Ross returns at tighthead prop, with Nathan White dropping to the bench, while Schmidt has opted to keep Cian Healy in reserve as Jack McGrath continues at loosehead alongside captain Rory Best.

Earlier today Eddie Jones made two changes to his England team for Saturday's encounter, handing a first start to lock Maro Itoje, with Joe Marler replacing Mako Vunipola in the front row.

Ireland team to face England: R Kearney; A Trimble, R Henshaw, S McCloskey K Earls; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best (capt), M Ross; D Toner, D Ryan; CJ Stander, J Van der Flier, J Heaslip.

Reps: Richardt Strauss, Cian Healy, Nathan White, Ultan Dillane, Rhys Ruddock, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Simon Zebo

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport