Feyi-Waboso, Mitchell and Martin in as England make three changes for Ireland clash

George Ford keeps his place at outhalf with Marcus Smith named on the bench and set for a first appearance

Steve Borthwick has made three personnel changes to his England side to face Ireland on Saturday, handing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso a first start as well as selecting Alex Mitchell and George Martin. Feyi-Waboso was turning out for Taunton Titans in National League One less than a year ago but has impressed on his two appearances from the bench to date and gets the nod on the left wing.

Mitchell returns at scrumhalf after recovering from a knee injury while Martin comes into the side at lock with Ollie Chessum shifting to blindside flanker and Ethan Roots dropping out of the squad. George Ford keeps his place at outhalf with Marcus Smith named on the bench and set for a first appearance of the championship after recovering from a calf injury. Fin Smith drops out of the squad having struggled with injury since last week while there is also a first appearance of this year’s Six Nations in the offing for Alex Dombrandt, who is named on the bench.

Cardiff-born Feyi-Waboso (21) was on Wales’s radar before the Six Nations but committed to England and scored his first Test try in the defeat by Scotland last time out. The 21-year-old replaces Elliot Daly in the side in a selection that echoes Borthwick’s decision to pick Henry Arundell on the wing against Ireland in Dublin last year.

Mitchell’s return is a boost given his form in the victories against Italy and Wales. He missed out against Scotland but comes straight back into the No 9 jersey with Danny Care dropping to the bench. The 37-year-old will win his 100th cap assuming he comes off the bench.


Martin missed the fixtures against Italy and Wales with a knee injury but brought ballast off the bench at Murrayfield and will be charged with doing the same against Ireland, who are on course for back-to-back grand slams. It is Martin’s first start since a fine showing in the World Cup semi-final against South Africa.

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Elsewhere, Borthwick has resisted changes with Smith making do with a spot on the bench having not played since Harlequins’ Champions Cup victory over Ulster on 20 January. George Furbank also keeps his place at full-back after a mixed performance against Scotland in which he scored the opening try. Henry Slade and Ollie Lawrence remain in the centres while Tommy Freeman is on the wing.

Up front, Ellis Genge, the captain Jamie George and Dan Cole continue in the front row while Maro Itoje is at lock along with Martin and Ben Earl and Sam Underhill keep their places at number and openside flanker respectively. Joe Marler, Theo Dan and Will Stuart provide bench cover for the front row while Roots, Chandler Cunningham-South, Care, Marcus Smith and Daly complete the replacements.

“As always, we’ve selected what we think is our strongest 23 to leave us best placed to win the game,” said Borthwick. “Ireland are without doubt currently one of the best teams in the world, and we’ll have to be at our very best against them on Saturday. We’ve prepared well for what will be another classic Six Nations game at Twickenham.

“I’d like to pay special tribute to Danny Care who will win his 100th cap at Twickenham on Saturday. Danny has been a tremendous servant to English rugby and reaching this milestone is an incredible achievement. He’s a wonderful player and someone who always puts the team first. I’m sure Saturday will be an emotional and memorable day for Danny and his family, and the team couldn’t be prouder of his accomplishment.” – Guardian

England team to play Ireland: George Furbank; Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, Henry Slade, Ollie Lawrence, Tommy Freeman; George Ford, Alex Mitchell; Ellis Genge, Jamie George (capt), Dan Cole; Maro Itoje, George Martin; Ollie Chessum, Sam Underhill, Ben Earl. Replacements: Theo Dan, Joe Marler, Will Stuart, Chandler Cunningham-South, Alex Bombrandt, Danny Care, Marcus Smith, Elliot Daly.