Tuesday 16 January 2018

Ireland v England key battles

Brian O'Driscoll V Matt Banahan

England's 6ft 7in outside centre will make only his second start in the position against arguably the greatest player of modern times. Banahan offers England power and direction in midfield but O'Driscoll can be as fierce at the breakdown as he is dangerous with the ball in hand.

Jonathan Sexton v Toby Flood

The decision to start with Sexton ahead of Ronan O'Gara raised a few eyebrows following his performance against Wales but it does indicate Ireland's intent to run at England. Flood's consistency and control has been impressive all campaign and England have shown an ability to keep it tight or spread it wide as the situation demands.

Sean O'Brien v Tom Wood

The Leinster flanker has been Ireland's outstanding player. England need to check his ball-carrying and match his work in the tackle if they are to secure the quick possession they crave. Wood already looks a seasoned Test player after just four caps and his role in improving England's breakdown work will be key.

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