sport

Haskell handed England start

Wasps flanker James Haskell will make his first RBS 6 Nations start in nearly two years when England tackle Ireland in Dublin on Sunday.

Haskell has been selected at blindside flanker in a reshuffled back row, with Tom Wood switching to number eight in place of the injured Ben Morgan.

England's starting line-up will otherwise be unchanged from their 38-18 Calcutta Cup victory over Scotland, with Manu Tuilagi returning from an ankle injury on the bench.

Haskell's last Six Nations start was also in Dublin, when England won the title but saw their 2011 Grand Slam ambitions destroyed with a 24-8 defeat to Ireland.

The 27-year-old opted out of last year's championship in order to play club rugby in Japan and then in New Zealand but he has worked his way back into Stuart Lancaster's plans.

Morgan was one of England's most influential players against Scotland but he limped off after 45 minutes with a sprained ankle and Haskell picked up the baton, winning four turnovers in the space of 35 minutes.

Tuilagi's return to full training had left Lancaster with a midfield conundrum after Billy Twelvetrees' eye-catching debut against Scotland.

But the England management decided Tuilagi's lack of match fitness meant he would be best utilised as an impact substitute.

"A lot of the players performed very well and with Manu coming back into the equation it gave us some selection decisions," Lancaster said.

"But with the centres playing well last week and Manu still returning to match fitness, having not played for the last four weeks, he and others will give us great options from the bench in what I am sure will be a physical encounter."

Tuilagi takes over on the bench from wing David Strettle while Thomas Waldrom fills the back row slot left vacant by Haskell's promotion to the starting line-up.

Sale prop Henry Thomas will travel to Dublin to provide cover at tighthead prop following this evening's Aviva Premiership match against Exeter Chiefs.

Lancaster explained that he felt it would have been too much to expect Tuilagi to start against the Irish after only recently returning from injury and stressed that he was delighted with the form of Twelvetrees and Barritt against Scotland.

"It's a good position to be in as a coach," he told Sky Sports 1.

"The decision was made for me on Tuesday. Manu was injured on January 13 and his first onfield rugby session was Tuesday.

"To play a full 80 minutes against Ireland after that would be difficult for any player.

"I looked at the best way to give the team the best chance to win on Sunday and went with Manu off the bench. I'm sure he will be a handful.

"It (the decision) also says a lot about the performances by Billy and Brad last week as well.

"Billy was quietly pleased with his debut although he doesn't shout it from the rooftops. He gives us another dimension to our attacking game and he deserves to keep his place.

"Brad has been outstandingly consistent and had another good game for us at the weekend."

England team v Ireland: A Goode (Saracens); C Ashton (Saracens), B Barritt (Saracens), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), M Brown (Harlequins); O Farrell (Saracens), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers); J Marler (Harlequins), T Youngs (Leicester Tigers), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), J Launchbury (London Wasps), G Parling (Leicester Tigers), J Haskell (London Wasps), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), T Wood (Northampton Saints).

Replacements: D Hartley (Northampton Saints), D Wilson (Bath Rugby), M Vunipola (Saracens), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), T Waldrom (Leicester Tigers), D Care (Harlequins), T Flood (Leicester Tigers), M Tuilagi ( Leicester Tigers).