Tait and guile: Chris Hewett's England team to face Ireland

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The Independent Online

I Balshaw; P Sackey, M Tait, T Flood, J Simpson-Daniel; D Cipriani, R Wigglesworth; A Sheridan, L Mears, P Vickery (capt), S Shaw, S Borthwick, T Croft, J Haskell, N Easter.

There is no earthly point in messing around, for the Six Nations title cannot be won or even shared. Mathew Tait, who at least cut some threatening angles in the dozen minutes or so he spent on the pitch at Murrayfield, should be given a belated chance to carry on the good work from last autumn's World Cup final. James Simpson-Daniel, by common consent the most imaginative outside back in England, should join him in a remodelled threequarter line.

Up front, James Haskell must return to the back row after missing the Scotland game through injury. Ireland will come with a high-class breakaway in David Wallace, but Haskell and Tom Croft are fast and vigorous enough to play in the left-and-right style favoured by the French and the Springboks.

Which leaves us with the No 10 position – the great test of Brian Ashton's mettle as a coach willing to take the hard decisions. Jonny Wilkinson – Saint Jonny – should be dropped in favour of Danny Cipriani, whose talents as a footballing outside-half are burning holes in every English pocket. Wilkinson has always insisted that the man wearing the shirt should be the one who most deserves it. Ashton should take note, and hand that piece of reinforced cotton to his natural successor.

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