Alistair Stokes discusses the changes Eddie Jones has made to England's starting XV and how they will affect England's performance.
Much to the fans delight Eddie Jones named a much changed side to host Ireland at Twickenham this weekend, seeing the end of the dual-playmaker strategy, for now anyway.
Before we get stuck in, here is a reminder of the team to take the field this Saturday.
The changes to the side that tasted a bitter defeat in Paris last weekend include simpler yet more imposing selections.
Sinckler usurps Dan Cole
After impressing off the bench last weekend, Lions bench prop Kyle Sinckler usurps the ever present in England's pack, Dan Cole. Jones' charges struggled to show any real momentum and pace to their carrying game, something made all the more prevalent by Sinckler's injection in the second-half.
As long as the hot tempered Harlequins man can keep his cool and focus on the job at hand, we can expect the 24-year-old to have a very influential role in England's attack.
The biggest test for Sinckler will be the scrum. Cole is one of the most consistent scrummaging tightheads in the world. Sinckler will have to ensure he does not allow the plug to be pulled in England's solidarity at set piece.
Haskell and Kruis return
Similarly to Sinckler, James Haskell's impact from the bench last weekend proved hugely influential on England's front-foot ball and breakdown efforts. The 76-times-capped openside provided aggressive, high-tempo carrying that allowed England front-foot ball, making the task of spoiling English possession a tough task for the French. Haskell also went a long way in securing England's possession as a supporting player, getting to the breakdown faster than most of the starting pack and being a general nuisance on French possession. As well as 'accidentally' falling into the path of the French ruck clearers, Haskell swung the breakdown momentum considerably in England's favour.
While it was not enough to help his side romp to a late victory, the impact of both Sinckler and Haskell in England's starting XV could prove significant. However, they must prove they can provide a similar level of intensity for at least 50 minutes, a far tougher task than arriving with less than 30 minutes to go.
Kruis' long-awaited resurrection
Saracens lock George Kruis also returns to the starting lineup for the first time since 2016 following injuries and a run of poor form. The injury to Courtney Lawes opens the gap for Kruis, who leapfrogs the impressive Joe Launchbury. The reason for Kruis' inclusion ahead of Launchbury is his work at set piece, he is the best lineout forward available to England and will look to fill the gap left by Lawes, who stole two of France's lineouts in Paris.
Sam Simmonds also returns to the starting side after Nathan Hughes suffered yet another knee injury. While Simmonds has been a fan-favourite after impressing in the Aviva Premiership with electric acceleration and top end speed, he was caught out for his lack of size against the French pack last weekend, even comfortably knocked by French backs at times. Another Exeter Chiefs fan-favourite, Don Armand, enters the fray, filling the bench spot left absent by Simmonds' promotion. The utility backrow will offer cover for Robshaw, Haskell and Simmonds and could well prove an important impact player in the latter stages of the game.
Farrell and Wigglesworth reunite Sarries pairing
Danny Care sees his starting run with England come to an end, after filling the gap left by the injured Ben Youngs in Italy. While Care displayed a sumptuous performance as a game manager against Wales in round two, the drop-off in his form in England's losses to Scotland and France were sizeable. Wigglesworth's management and kicking game is second only to Connor Murray in the Northern Hemisphere and will bring no drop in experience.
With Owen Farrell starting in his preferred position of fly-half in an England jersey for the first time since 2016, the highly decorated Saracens half-back pairing will boast plenty of cohesiveness, but must stand the test of the best half-back pairing in the world, Murray and Sexton.
Dual-playmaker strategy comes to an end
Bar one test in Australia, Jones has selected a dual-playmaking pairing at 10 and 12 in every test under his supervision, but breaks the run with Ben Te'o slotting into his preferred position of inside centre this weekend. Once starting fly-half George Ford left the field last weekend, Farrell assumed the fly-half position with Te'o moving to 12, a change that proved prosperous for England. Farrell provided a less complex yet more effective hand on the tiller, well utilising Te'o and Jonathan Joseph as attacking threats.
The last and only time Farrell and Te'o started together at test level was in the first game of the summer's British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. While it was changed for a Sexton-Farrell combo for the final two tests, it did prove a successful partnership, with Te'o doing well to shackle Sonny Bill-Williams and making plenty of linebreaks. A promising pairing for England's midfield that must show it can learn from the flaws revealed at Eden Park last June.
Despite a loss in Paris, Anthony Watson has retained his starting role at fullback. Mike Brown remains on the bench, with Watson offering a level of attack and searing pace unmatched in England's squad. The 24-year-old must prove he can continue to marshall England's back three in defence with no significant drop-off when compared to Brown. Watson must also prove he can learn from the mistake last weekend that saw him yellow-carded and a penalty try conceded.
Again, a promising selection for England, adding another layer of attacking potential not made possible with Brown.
What do the changes mean for England?
Jones' changes should help England partially solve the issues at the gainline and breakdown, keeping Irish defenders at bay on English possession and fighting to remove English hands on Ireland's ball. While there will be an improvement in this area, it will by no means completely nullify the issues they have suffered and will be in for a difficult day at the office against an extremely physical and monstrously organised pack.
The changes to England's pack, the inclusion of Wigglesworth and the abandonment of two playmakers will result in a simpler game plan. However, this should not be viewed as a negative. Whilst knowing more about what is coming your way does benefit defenders, it does not necessarily make it easier to defend. Simpler, yet harder to deal with, will be the philosophy for the day and will likely cause Ireland's impressive defence more problems than the likes of Scotland and France. Theoretically, England should be able to go about their business in a more organised and therefore effective fashion.
All that being said, none of these positives can be implemented if the arriving players are unable to execute their own roles. Should Sinckler fail to secure the scrum, Kruis continue a run of poor form and Te'o become blinkered and miss the opportunity for players outside him, England fans could well be in for further heartbreak. If so, I hear HMV are doing a 2 for 1 deal on Adele and James Blunt albums...
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