Ireland opt for Ross Byrne at fly-half for Rugby World Cup warm-up against England

Ross Byrne comes in at fly-half as Jonny Sexton continues to serve his suspension; Ireland take on England on Saturday in Dublin in their Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture; World Cup runs from September 8 to October 28

        Ireland opt for Ross Byrne at fly-half for Rugby World Cup warm-up against England

Ross Byrne starts at fly-half for Ireland with Jonny Sexton still suspended

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has named his side to face England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday, with Ross Byrne named at fly-half.

With regular captain Jonny Sexton still suspended, Farrell opted for Jack Crowley at No 10 last time out against Italy.

However, for his side’s clash with England Byrne will take the No 10 jersey, James Ryan captaining the side and Crowley moving to the bench.

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Cian Prendergast will make his first Ireland start at No 8 in what is a close to full-strength line-up for the world’s top-ranked side.

It will be a landmark occasion for Keith Earls, who is in line to win his 100th Test cap should he come off the bench, joining Brian O’Driscoll (133), Ronan O’Gara (128), Cian Healy (124), Rory Best (124), Johnny Sexton (113), Paul O’Connell (108), John Hayes (105) and Conor Murray (105) in hitting the milestone.

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Hugo Keenan comes into the side at full-back, as do Mack Hansen and James Lowe to make up the starting back three.

Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose are also set for their first appearances of the Bank of Ireland Nations Series in the centres as Stuart McCloskey and Robbie Henshaw drop out.

Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan and Tadhg Furlong start in the front row, with Tadhg Beirne joining Ryan at lock.

Peter O’Mahony starts at blindside flanker, with Josh van der Flier at openside and Connacht’s Prendergast given a huge opportunity to stake his claim for a place in the final 33-player squad.

        Ireland opt for Ross Byrne at fly-half for Rugby World Cup warm-up against England

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The bench is then made up of Rob Herring, Jeremy Loughman and Finlay Bealham, Joe McCarthy and Caelan Doris, Conor Murray, Crowley and centurion-in-waiting Earls.

On potentially earning the honour, Earls said: “I’m trying not to think about it but talking to Andy about if it does happen, he’s telling me: ‘it’s not just another cap, you can’t have a normal week because it’s not a normal week.

“It would be a massive honour but also just a bit of relief because I was stuck on 98.

“I suppose in the last couple of years I was genuinely thinking every time I stepped on to the field it could be the last time.

“I’d be extremely proud and privileged to join a unique group.”

Ireland side to face England

Starting XV: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Mack Hansen, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park; 1 Andrew Porter, 2 Dan Sheehan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 5 James Ryan (C), 6 Peter O’Mahony, 7 Josh van der Flier, 8 Cian Prendergast

Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Finlay Bealham,19 Joe McCarthy, 20 Caelan Doris, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Jack Crowley, 23 Keith Earls