David Strettle returns to England line-up for Ireland match

 

David Strettle has returned to the England team for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations finale in place of Charlie Sharples after recovering from a sternum injury.

Strettle's inclusion is the only change to the England starting line-up that laid the foundations for last Sunday's 24-22 victory over France in Paris.

England interim coach Stuart Lancaster has made one change on the bench, with Bath hooker Lee Mears set for his first appearance of the championship in place of the injured Rob Webber.

Strettle was forced to pull out of the Paris showdown on the eve of the match after a chest injury he first sustained against Italy flared up again in training.

Lancaster said: "David Strettle has now recovered from his injury and will replace Charlie Sharples, who gained valuable experience in Paris.

"It's good to have Lee Mears on the bench and he will bring great energy and experience should he get a chance to come on."

If Mears comes on at Twickenham, England will have used just 27 players during their Six Nations campaign.

Phil Dowson also makes the bench again despite being knocked out in the closing stages of England's victory over France.

England full-back Ben Foden will line up against Ireland just four days after his fiance - the Irish singer Una Healy from The Saturdays - gave birth to their daughter Aoife Belle.

Wales' superior points difference of plus 38 leaves them with a strong grip on the Six Nations title.

For England to wrestle the title off them, Lancaster's men must put Ireland to the sword and hope France wreck Wales' Grand Slam party with a comprehensive victory at the Millennium Stadium.

Although that is unlikely, Lancaster is proud of what his new-look England side have achieved during their campaign.

"It seems like yesterday when we got together in Leeds in January and began a new journey for England rugby," Lancaster said.

"Graham Rowntree, Andy Farrell and myself firmly believe in this group of players and the direction we are going.

"Saturday is another step on that road and we are looking forward to coming home to a packed Twickenham with its special atmosphere and crowd.

"Their support has been phenomenal and we hope we can do the whole nation proud again."

Wasps have confirmed that Webber will require surgery on the shoulder injury he sustained during his brief appearance off the bench, when he filled in at flanker for Dowson.

England's starting fly-half Owen Farrell also took a blow to the shoulder in Paris but Lancaster reported the problem has settled down and he would train today.

England team to play Ireland in the RBS 6 Nations championship at Twickenham on March 17 (kick-off 1700):

B Foden (Northampton Saints); C Ashton (Northampton Saints), M Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), B Barritt (Saracens), D Strettle (Saracens); O Farrell (Saracens), L Dickson (Northampton Saints); A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), M Botha (Saracens), G Parling (Leicester Tigers), T Croft (Leicester Tigers), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Morgan (Scarlets).

Replacements: L Mears (Bath Rugby), M Stevens (Saracens), T Palmer (Stade Francais), P Dowson (Northampton Saints), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers), C Hodgson (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins).

PA

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