Six Nations

Ireland's Murray out of England clash

2017-03-16 18:18
Conor Murray (Gallo Images)

Dublin - Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray has been ruled out of Saturday's Six Nations clash against England in Dublin after failing to overcome a shoulder injury.

Meanwhile Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has dropped lock Devin Toner, with the New Zealander recalling fit-again fullback Jared Payne ahead of Rob Kearney (knee injury).

Murray injured himself in Ireland's 22-9 loss to Wales in Cardiff last Friday, a defeat that all but ended their title hopes.

Kieran Marmion replaced Murray at scrumhalf in the team announced by Schmidt on Thursday, with Iain Henderson preferred to Toner.

Kearney's injury has paved the way for Payne to play in his first Ireland match since he suffered a lacerated kidney in November.

"With Conor Murray we fitness-tested him today and we felt he wasn't quite 100 percent," Schmidt said on Thursday.

"We just felt if we lost him early in the game we would be vulnerable.

"Iain Henderson came off the bench and did really well last week.

"Between Donnacha Ryan and Dev (Toner) we just wanted to give him a chance to start. Donnacha also did well last week, so it was just trying to get that balance.

"Rob Kearney has got a knee injury and is unavailable to be selected. It probably won't be too long but needs a bit of further investigation."

Losing British and Irish Lions scrum-half Murray is a major blow to Ireland.

A fine player in his own right, Murray has formed one of the outstanding halfback partnerships in European rugby with fly-half Jonathan Sexton.

Defeat for Ireland would see them drop out of the top band of teams for May's 2019 World Cup draw in Kyoto if Wales beat France in Paris.

Victory for England, who wrapped up the Six Nations title with a 61-21 thrashing of Scotland last week, would give them a new record of 19 consecutive Tests wins by a leading rugby union nations, beating the mark of world champions New Zealand, and see Eddie Jones's men complete back-to-back Grand Slams.

Ireland are trying to avoid losing to all three Home Nations rivals - England, Scotland and Wales - in a single Championship season for the first time since the 1998 Five Nations.

And a win on Saturday could yet see them end this Six Nations as runners-up to England.

"There's still an opportunity to finish second which is a massive thing for us," said Schmidt.

"We can still attain the target of second place, so there's still a heck of a lot for us to gain individually and collectively."

Ireland team to play England in a Six Nations international at Lansdowne Road on Saturday (19:00 kick-off):

Teams:

Ireland

15 Jared Payne, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Tadgh Furlong, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Jack McGrath

Substitutes: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Cian Healy, 18 John Ryan, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Peter O'Mahony, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Andrew Conway

England

15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 James Haskell, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Joe Marler

Substitutes: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Tom Wood, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Danny Care, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Jack Nowell

Read more on:    ireland  |  england  |  six nations  |  rugby
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