Bono the only new face as Ireland unchanged for England clash


  • Rugby
  • Wednesday, 19 Feb 2020

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Ireland v Wales - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland - February 8, 2020 Wales and Ireland players shake hands at the end of the match REUTERS/Ian Walton

DUBLIN (Reuters) - A vist by U2 singer Bono to Ireland's training camp was the only major adjustment to coach Andy Farrell's preparations as he named an unchanged starting line-up for Sunday's Six Nations trip to face England at Twickenham.

Ireland, who failed to light up a Rugby World Cup yet again last year, stuttered to a narrow win over Scotland in round one of the Six Nations but followed that up with a bruising 24-14 victor over Wales in Dublin.

A win over Farrell's native England would secure his first trophy - the Triple Crown - as Ireland's head coach and make them serious contenders for a fourth title in seven years. They next face a home game against Italy before a potential Grand Slam decider away to France, the only other side to win their first two games.

"We had a decent performance last time, (but) there were a few things we needed to fix. A few boys went back (to the Pro 14) and gave us a few headaches but we decided to go for a little bit of continuity and see if we can build on what we did last time around," Farrell told the Irish Rugby website.

"Like every other time that we play England at Twickenham, it's a big challenge, everyone knows that. But top players relish these moments and we're in a good place, we're building well."

In the only change to the matchday 23, Leinster's Caelan Doris joins the bench after the 21-year-old backrow's debut against Scotland was cut short when he suffered a concussion in the opening minutes.

As well as Bono speaking to the squad at their hotel on Tuesday evening, former Ireland captain Paul O'Connell is spending the week in camp.

Of O'Connell's contribution, Farrell said it was great for the squad to get feedback from someone they really respect. But U2 front man Bono was no less welcome.

The Dublin band posted a picture of Bono serving food to Ireland captain Johnny Sexton on Wednesday, captioned: "At your service, Sir ... and always at the service of a truly great Irish team!"

The gesture was certainly well received by Farrell.

"There wasn't too much singing, actually, but we were blown away that he gave up time to come over and see us. He was top of the wish list," Farrell said.

"He put real time and effort into it. He's a private guy who really doesn't do much of these things, but he loves his rugby. He told us some stories and we got a lot out of that. He's obviously a proud Irishman so we connect with that."

Team: 15-Jordan Larmour, 14-Andrew Conway, 13-Robbie Henshaw, 12-Bundee Aki, 11-Jacob Stockdale, 10-Jonathan Sexton (captain), 9-Conor Murray, 8-CJ Stander, 7-Josh van der Flier, 6-Peter O'Mahony, 5-James Ryan, 4-Iain Henderson, 3-Tadhg Furlong, 2-Rob Herring, 1-Cian Healy.

Replacements: 16-Ronan Kelleher, 17-Dave Kilcoyne, 18-Andrew Porter, 19-Devin Toner, 20-Caelan Doris, 21-John Cooney, 22-Ross Byrne, 23-Keith Earls.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Christian Radnedge and David Goodman)

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