Ireland vs England: Five Six Nations talking points ahead of Saturday's Test
Ireland face England in the Aviva Stadium at 4.45pm on Saturday
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 02/02/19 4:15pm
Defending Six Nations champions Ireland welcome Eddie Jones' England to Dublin on Saturday in the headline game of this weekend.
Here are five talking points ahead of Saturday's clash at the Aviva Stadium...
Both head coaches have taken somewhat of a gamble with regards to their full-back selections, with the more experienced and potentially 'safer' calls of Rob Kearney and Mike Brown avoided.
For Ireland, Robbie Henshaw is in to play his first match at 15 for six years - and only second ever Test there - while for England, the Elliot Daly full-back experiment continues.
The Wasps man started all three Tests against South Africa in June at full-back, and by his own very high standards, struggled considerably.
In November, he started all four Tests against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia in the 15 shirt, and though he grew in comfort, he has yet to truly excel in that position - particularly from an aerial point of view.
Brown's strength under the high ball, coupled with Ireland's accurate kicking game, had led many to believe the Harlequins man would oust Daly, but he has kept his place.
Henshaw hasn't started a game at 15 at any level for three years (April 2016 for Connacht), while you have to go back to his Test debut against America in 2013 to find the last time he started at full-back for Ireland.
Expect a lot of kicking, and potentially one or two fumbles from both sides. Whoever deals with the aerial game the better will have a super chance of victory.
Perhaps slightly enforced, with the injury to Ben Te'o and form of Owen Farrell at 10 making things clearer, but Manu Tuilagi will start an England Test for the first time since 2014 when Eddie Jones' men run out in Dublin.
After years of injury torment and unfulfilled promise, the powerful Leicester Tigers centre is back on the Test scene and on his day, is one of the most difficult players to contain in world rugby - of that there is no doubt.
How he links up with Henry Slade outside him and Farrell inside him will be of particular interest - as will his direct head-to-head with Ireland inside centre Bundee Aki.
Can England get Tuilagi into the game and unleash him on the Ireland gain-line? Can Andy Farrell's Ireland defence marshal him out of the contest? He's a player to keep an eye on for sure.
Ireland's phenomenal home record
England face a tough ask to claim victory this weekend, up against a quality Ireland outfit who are in some fabulous form.
On a run of six wins on the trot and 18 from their last 19 Tests, unbeaten in Dublin for over two years, reigning Grand Slam winners and most recently having defeated the World No 1 All Blacks in Dublin for the very first time, things could hardly be in a better place.
At home, they are formidable. And under Schmidt in the Six Nations, as yet unbeatable.
In five Six Nations campaigns since the Kiwi took charge, Ireland have yet to lose a home Test - an incredible stat.
Will they maintain their unblemished Championship record in Schmidt's final campaign? Can England claim what would be a monumental away success?
The two areas England head coach Jones had highlighted as being of specific significance ahead of this Test were the aerial game - as discussed above - and the battle of the breakdown.
Principal to that facet will be the respective back-rows in what is set-up to be an immense clash of physicality, technique and nous.
Having Billy Vunipola back turns England into a different animal, and up against him at No 8 for Ireland will be the ball carrying machine that is CJ Stander. One of these is likely to dominate go-forward and the ensuing momentum it generates - who can do it when it matters most?
Not having Sam Underhill at openside is a blow for England, particularly when considering Peter O'Mahony and Josh van der Flier's proficiency come breakdown time for Ireland, but Tom Curry proved in South Africa that he is more than an able operator too - the Sale Shark must have a big game if England are to do well.
Mark Wilson came out of nowhere to excel in November, but on his Six Nations debut at the home of the reigning Grand Slam champions, can he have the desired impact?
The collective back-row which performs the better at the Aviva Stadium will almost certainly be on the winning side.
Looking at the respective team sheets, one thing which really stands out is the strength of England's replacement bench.
It's arguably the most quality and impact-infused list of names head coach Jones has ever been able to pick.
Loosehead Ellis Genge, second row Courtney Lawes, back-row Nathan Hughes and outside-back Chris Ashton are some wonderful options to be able to call upon. And you would have to expect they will bring something to the Test when they emerge.
Ireland have Sean O'Brien on their bench to call upon, who - fitness permitting - should emerge to provide a considerable impression himself. Sean Cronin, Joey Carbery and Jordan Larmour are men who could turn a game too with their dynamism, skill and quick feet respectively.
But looking at the benches as a whole, England's looks the stronger on paper, and that could turn the game should it prove a tight contest past the hour mark...
Ireland: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray; 1 Cian Healy, 2 Rory Best, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 Devin Toner, 5 James Ryan, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 7 Josh van der Flier, 8 CJ Stander.
Replacements: 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, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Tom Curry, 8 Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 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.