England vs Ireland team news: George Ford on bench as Eddie Jones makes four changes for Autumn Nations Cup

George Ford has been named among the replacements for England’s Autumn Nations Cup showdown with Ireland this weekend with captain Owen Farrell continuing at fly-half after Eddie Jones selected his “strongest team possible”.

Despite the return to fitness of regular fly-half Ford after recovering from an ankle injury, Jones has elected not to rush the Leicester half-back and will continue with the midfield combination of Henry Slade and Ollie Lawrence against a battle-hardened Ireland side.

With the two-cap Lawrence retained in the side in what is a big show of faith from Jones in the Worcester Warriors centre, the back line remains completely unchanged as Jonathan Joseph has overcome the back spasm that forced him off before half-time in last Saturday’s victory, meaning he remains out on the wing with Gloucester’s Ollie Thorley omitted from the side.

All four personnel changes therefore come in the pack as Mako Vuniola and Kyle Sinckler both return at prop at the expense of Ellis Genge and Will Stuart, who drop to the bench, while Maro Itoje moves back to the second row to accommodate Jones’s preferred flanker pairing of Tom Curry and Sam Underhill. Jack Willis, who scored on his England debut last weekend, had already been released from the squad earlier in the week after failing to make selection for the clash with Ireland.

The pair join Billy Vunipola in the back row, while the side is completed in the back three with Elliot Daly and Jonny May joining Joseph, who repeats the wide role that he fulfilled in the 24-12 Six Nations victory over the Irish back in February this year.

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Jamie George is retained at hooker fresh from scoring a hat-trick of tries against Georgia, while Joe Launchbury does enough to edge out Exeter’s Jonny Hill at lock, with the latter back in the matchday squad after being rested last weekend. With Hill joined by Ben Earl among the replacements, there is no space in the squad for Northampton flanker Lewis Ludlam.

Ford is also among the replacements where he is joined by Dan Robson and Max Malins as cover for the back line, while Tom Dunn backs up George at hooker as he continues to wait for his first England start.

“I’ve picked the strongest team possible for the most important game of our season,” Jones said.

“We have the highest respect for Ireland and their coach Andy Farrell. They’ve had good preparation with two wins and a dominant display against Wales, and we will need to be at our best on Saturday.

“We’ve trained well this week, we’re expecting a tough, physical game against Ireland and we’ve reflected that in our sessions.  We’ll look to lift our performance even higher and are looking forward to a really good game of rugby.”

England team to face Ireland

Elliot Daly; Jonathan Joseph, Ollie Lawrence, Henry Slade, Jonny May; Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury; Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Tom Dunn, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Jonny Hill, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, George Ford, Max Malins.

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