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IRELAND head coach Andy Farrell has named an unchanged starting XV for Sunday’s Six Nations clash with England.
The Irish travel to Twickenham seeking to clinch a second Triple Crown in three years after beginning the tournament with successive home wins over Scotland and Wales.
Farrell has resisted temptation to recall fit-again No 8 Caelan Doris for the visit to south-west London, sticking with the in-form CJ Stander in the centre of the back row, with Peter O’Mahony continuing at blindside flanker.
Doris, who was forced off with a head-knock in the opening minutes of his international debut against the Scots on February 1, is named among the replacements in place of Max Deegan after missing the bonus-point win over Wayne Pivac’s Wales.
Deegan’s omission is the only change to Farrell’s 23-man squad.
Robbie Henshaw has overcome a head injury suffered against Wales to renew his centre partnership with Bundee Aki, while captain Johnny Sexton continues at fly-half alongside scrum-half Conor Murray.
Experienced wing Keith Earls again has to be content with a place on the bench as Ireland’s back three now has a settled look to it, with Andrew Conway and Jacob Stockdale playing either side of full-back Jordan Larmour.
Rob Herring once again gets the nod over Ronan Kelleher at hooker, with Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong completing the front row, backed up by locks Iain Henderson and James Ryan.
Openside flanker Josh Van Der Flier, scorer of one of Ireland’s four tries against Wales on February 8, joins Stander and O’Mahony in the back row.
Farrell revealed he has received lessons in “Irishness” from music star Bono.
The U2 frontman was a special guest at the team hotel on Tuesday evening.
Farrell said: “We were blown away that he gave his time up to come over to see us. We invited him in and he was top of the wish list and we got the top, which was unbelievable really.
“He’s quite a private person really but he put a lot of time and effort into being able to answer the questions from the floor in a great manner that we got something out of.
“He’s obviously a proud Irishman, so he talked a bit about Irishness.”
Murray was also inspired by the visit of the 59-year-old Dublin-born musician, real name Paul Hewson.
“It was just cool to hear him talk about his life experiences and how he views the world and you realise what he’s done outside of music and in terms of charity and the people he’s dealt with politically,” said Murray.
“He’s just a huge personality and it was unbelievable to hear him speak, unbelievably intelligent and well-articulated guy.
“It was just a really cool evening.”
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