Six Nations

Murray reunited with Sexton for England Six Nations clash

2019-01-31 16:24
Conor Murray (Gallo Images)

Dublin - Conor Murray and world player of the year Johnny Sexton are reunited for defending champions Ireland's tough Six Nations opener against England at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

Scrumhalf Murray missed the November Tests - including the historic home Test win over world champions New Zealand - as he had only just recovered from a neck injury.

Kieran Marmion deputised for him very effectively alongside Sexton but he is presently out of contention due to injury although he could only have expected to slot in on the replacements bench in any case with Murray fit again.

Murray and Sexton have formed a world-class half-back partnership, flourishing under head coach Joe Schmidt's direction and climaxing with the Six Nations Grand Slam last year.

Sexton, though, is the one who comes into the game with a question mark over his fitness, the 33-year-old having not played in Leinster's two European Champions Cup matches due to a knee issue.

Schmidt, entering his final Six Nations as he steps down after this year's World Cup, has stayed largely faithful to the side that disposed of the All Blacks.

To this end the New Zealander retains the centre partnership of Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose which means a rare appearance at fullback for Robbie Henshaw.

The 25-year-old - Ringrose's centre partner at Leinster - has played all but one of his 36 Tests in the midfield but began his career at fullback when he was at Connacht and it is believed it is his favoured position.

Henshaw gets the nod at fullback as veteran Rob Kearney has only just returned to action and looked rusty in his reappearance for Leinster last Friday.

He does not even make the bench as Schmidt opts for the spontaneity of youngster Jordan Larmour, who can play either at fullback or the wing.

"We really felt the way he trained in Portugal last week and this week that it was worth pursuing," Schmidt said of Henshaw starting at full-back, playing down any fears that England might target him.

"If they do, Robbie will have a good response for that and he will get plenty of support from Keith (Earls) and Jacob (Stockdale)."

Turning to Larmour's inclusion ahead of Kearney, Schnmidt said: "I like the flexibility of Jordan on the bench. He came on really well last year and impressed against England in the Grand Slam clincher.

"It's one of those things we have see as an option for quite some time so it is not so much of a surprise. Rob played the Scarlets but he looked rusty."

James Ryan and the giant Devin Toner line up in the second row with Schmidt deprived of injured duo Iain Henderson and the in-form Tadhg Beirne. 

Ireland - who will start favourites on the back of 18 wins in their last 19 Tests including two over England - are captained once again by veteran hooker Rory Best, the 36-year-old in line to win his 114th cap.  

Teams

Ireland

15 Robbie Henshaw; 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale; 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray; 8 CJ Stander, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O'Mahony; 5 James Ryan, 4 Devin Toner; 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Cian Healy

Substitutes: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Sean O'Brien, 21 John Cooney, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Jordan Larmour

England

15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jonny May, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Jack Nowell, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola

Substitutes: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Dan Robson, 22 George Ford, 23 Chris Ashton

Read more on:    ireland  |  england  |  rugby

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
Sunday, 24 February 2019
Italy v Ireland, Stadio Olimpico 17:00
Saturday, 09 March 2019
Scotland v Wales, BT Murrayfield Stadium 16:15
England v Italy, Twickenham Stadium 18:45
Sunday, 10 March 2019
Ireland v France, Aviva Stadium 17:00
Logs
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Who will win the 2018 Six Nations title?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.