Ireland v England - RBS Six Nations match preview

Last Updated: 10/02/13 2:27pm

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Manu Tuilagi: Only returned to training on Tuesday

Manu Tuilagi: Only returned to training on Tuesday

Sky Bet

Stuart Lancaster believes Sunday's RBS Six Nations clash against Ireland would have been too early to put Manu Tuilagi back into England's starting line-up.

The star centre was absent from England's 38-18 opening win against Scotland last weekend due to an ankle injury.

He was available for selection again ahead of the showdown at Aviva Stadium but Lancaster has kept faith in the midfield partnership of Brad Barritt and Billy Twelvetrees, with Tuilagi on the bench.

"The decision was made for me on Tuesday. Manu was injured on January 13 and his first onfield rugby session was Tuesday," Lancaster told Sky Sports.

"To play a full 80 minutes against Ireland after that would be difficult for any player. I looked at the best way to give the team the best chance to win on Sunday and went with Manu off the bench. I'm sure he will be a handful.

"It (the decision) also says a lot about the performances by Billy and Brad last week as well.

"Billy was quietly pleased with his debut although he doesn't shout it from the rooftops. He gives us another dimension to our attacking game and he deserves to keep his place.

"Brad has been outstandingly consistent and had another good game for us at the weekend."

Lancaster does have to make one enforced change, however, as James Haskell comes in at flanker and Tom Wood switches to No 8 to replace Ben Morgan, who hobbled off against Scotland.

Ireland defeated defending champions Wales in their opening contest, meaning the showdown at Aviva could have a huge bearing on the destination of this year's title.

Coach Declan Kidney has the luxury of naming an unchanged side for the clash, with Gordon d'Arcy and Keith Earls overcoming injury worries to take their place in the starting XV.

Ireland: 15 R Kearney, 14 C Gilroy, 13 B O'Driscoll, 12 G D'Arcy, 11 S Zebo, 10 J Sexton, 9 C Murray, 8 J Heaslip (capt) 7 S O'Brien, 6 P O'Mahony, 5 D Ryan, 4 M McCarthy, 3 M Ross, 2 R Best, 1 C Healy.

Replacements: 16 S Cronin (Leinster), 17 D Kilcoyne (Munster), 18 D Fitzpatrick, (Ulster), 19 D O'Callaghan, (Munster), 20 C Henry (Ulster), 21 E Reddan (Leinster), 22 R O'Gara (Munster), 23 K Earls.

England: 15 A Goode, 14 C Ashton, 13 B Barritt, 12 B Twelvetrees, 11 M Brown; 10 O Farrell, 9 B Youngs, 8 T Wood, 7 C Robshaw (capt), 6 J Haskell, 5 G Parling, 4 J Launchbury, 3 D Cole, 2 T Youngs, 1 J Marler.

Replacements: 16 D Hartley, 17 D Wilson, 18 M Vunipola, 19 C Lawes, 20 T Waldrom, 21 D Care, 22 T Flood, 23 M Tuilagi.

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