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Feb 23, 2020 at 3pm UK
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Eddie Jones: 'England can stand up to Irish aerial assault at Twickenham'

:Headline: Eddie Jones: 'England can stand up to Irish aerial assault at Twickenham':
The sides face off in the Six Nations Championship this weekend.

Eddie Jones insists England have a back three to face down Ireland’s aerial threat after being forced into a reshuffle for Sunday’s Twickenham collision.

After two starts at full-back, George Furbank has been ruled out of the pivotal Guinness Six Nations showdown by a long-standing groin and hip injury that sees Elliot Daly restored to the number 15 jersey.

The vacancy on the left wing created by Daly’s move is filled by Jonathan Joseph, who will mark his 50th cap by making his first Test start in the position having made two replacement appearances there.

(PA Graphics)

One of Ireland’s strengths is the kicking game directed by Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton and their ability to challenge for the ball in the air, but Jones insists England have an accomplished trio patrolling the backfield.

“It’s no disruption at all. Elliot has played a lot of Test football at 15, so he welcomes the opportunity. We don’t feel he has got a deficiency (under the high ball),” Jones said.

“Jonathan has played on the wing for us before. He could play 12, 13 or on the wings. We used him on the wings during the World Cup, he’s a versatile player.

“He’s a great defender, a great defender in space, and he’s got good jumping skills.”

Elliot Daly and Jonathan Joseph are back in the England XV (Adam Davy/PA)

Jones stated that Furbank’s run of two caps has been interrupted by a troublesome injury, yet the Northampton rookie is one of two reserves for Twickenham.

“George is just not quite right. Rather than risk him – he couldn’t train yesterday (Thursday) – we felt like we were better off resting him this weekend,” Jones said.

“He has a long-term groin and hip issue that’s he had for many a year, and just needed to give it some time.”

There are four changes in personnel and two positional switches to the side that defeated Scotland 13-6 in the Calcutta Cup a week after falling to France in Paris.

Manu Tuilagi returns at outside centre after winning his battle with a minor groin strain sustained in the Six Nations opener that forced him to miss the trip to Murrayfield.

Henry Slade is also present after two months out with an ankle injury but the Exeter Chiefs playmaker must settle for a place on the bench, which once again sees a six-two split between forwards and backs.

“We are really happy with the team. It’s a good strong team – good forward pack, good backs. It’s great to have Manu and Henry back in the 23,” Jones said.

“They are both quality players. They have proven that over the last couple of seasons, so having those two back is a really good bonus for us. Manu is fresh, ready to go.”

The two-way duel for scrum-half duties has been won by Ben Youngs, who ousts Willi Heinz.

Courtney Lawes displaces Lewis Ludlam at blindside flanker with the young Northampton Saint missing out on the 23 altogether, while Joe Marler comes in for Mako Vunipola at loosehead prop.

Joe Marler will start for England (Steven Paston/PA)

Vunipola has returned home to Tonga for family reasons, creating a vacancy in the front row, but Tuilagi’s comeback compensates for the loss of his gainline-busting power.

England must defeat Ireland to remain in Six Nations title contention, while Andy Farrell’s men are chasing the Grand Slam.

“It’s the next game so it’s the biggest one. It’s as simple as that. We have nothing to look forward to after that, nothing to look forward to before that,” Jones said.

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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool29271166214582
2Manchester CityMan City28183768313757
3Leicester CityLeicester29165858283053
4Chelsea29146951391248
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd29129844301445
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves29101364134743
7Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd28111073025543
8Tottenham HotspurSpurs29118104740741
9Arsenal2891364036440
10Burnley29116123440-639
11Crystal Palace29109102632-639
12Everton29107123746-937
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2998122541-1635
14Southampton29104153552-1734
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton29611123240-829
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham2976163550-1527
17Watford2969142744-1727
18Bournemouth2976162947-1827
19Aston Villa2874173456-2225
20Norwich CityNorwich2956182552-2721
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