Robin Copeland one of three new faces in the Ireland Wolfhounds team to face England
Fergus McFadden will be given a chance to prove his fitness ahead of Sunday week’s Six Nations kick-off after he was named in a strong Ireland Wolfhounds team to face England Saxons on Saturday.
McFadden has been out of action since breaking hand in the defeat to Australia in November, but having been named in the initial 44-man squad ahead of Craig Gilroy and Simon Zebo, his return will be keenly watched.
Joe Schmidt has named three uncapped players in the side for the Championship warm-up at Gloucester, with Cardiff Blues’ Munster bound No 8 Robin Copeland starting and Leinster’s Martin Moore and Ulster’s South African hooker Rob Herring also starting.
There are also three uncapped players on the bench with Robbie Diack, Jordi Murphy and Kieran Marmion looking to impress as replacements. The Connacht scrum-half was cleared to play this morning after his citing after Saturday’s defeat to Saracens.
Ian Madigan is named at out-half alongside his Leinster teammate Isaac Boss, while Darren Cave partners Robbie Henshaw in the centre.
Munster’s Tommy O’Donnell is given a chance to audition for Sean O’Brien’s No 7 shirt, while Rhys Ruddock captains the team from the blindside.
Craig Gilroy is named on the wing, with Simon Zebo confined to the bench where Richardt Strauss continues his return with a surprise inclusion on the bench.
"We all sat down with Joe, trying to put a squad together with depth and you can see that in the team and it is with that focus in mind and giving players opportunity to put their hands up," coach Anthony Foley said.
"Out priority is Saturday, we’ve had three good days up here, running against the boys and being competitive. Our main focus is getting a priority.
"It’s a massive opportunity for everyone in the group.
"It’s about gelling, getting combinations working. It’s about Rob Herring and Dan Tuohy, Ian Madigan and Isaac Boss they have those combinations."
"Rob Herring has had a good campaign for Ulster, he has a lot of strengths. Robin Copeland has been plying his trade in Cardiff and with his performances I’m looking forward to watching him with ball in hand. He’s a good player. Robin in recent times has had more strengths and weaknesses and we’re all looking forward to having him in the Wolfhounds
The clash takes place at 5.0 on Saturday at Gloucester’s Kingsholm.
IRELAND WOLFHOUNDS to play England Saxons on Saturday: Felix Jones (Munster); Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Darren Cave (Ulster), Craig Gilroy (Ulster); Ian Madigan (Leinster), Isaac Boss (Leinster); Dave Kilcoyne (Munster), Rob Herring (Ulster), Martin Moore (Leinster); Iain Henderson (Ulster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster): Rhys Ruddock (capt, Leinster), Tommy O’Donnell (Munster), Robin Copeland (Cardiff Blues).
Replacements: Richardt Strauss (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Stephen Archer (Munster), Robbie Diack (Ulster), Jordi Murphy (Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Connacht), Ian Keatley (Munster), Simon Zebo (Munster)