The England full-back Mike Brown has been ruled out of what could easily become the deciding match in the 6Nations on Sunday against Ireland in Dublin after suffering another setback in his recovery from concussion. Brown had originally suffered a head injury in the match against Italy win 47.17. Stuart Lancaster, the England head coach, said: “Mike and our medical staff have been diligent during every step of the graduated return to play protocol and they will continue to work to get him back to full health.” England and Ireland are the only sides left in the championship with 100% records, the Irish seeing off France 18-11 in their last match. England assistant coach Andy Farrell revealed that Brown woke up with a mild headache after completing Tuesday’s running session. “Mike woke up not feeling 100%. The right and proper thing to do was to make the call. His health is the main priority here and we need to get him right for the next game,” Farrell said. “The symptoms aren’t too severe whatsoever, just a little headache. He’s fine in himself and is chirpy enough, but it just isn’t worth the risk because his health comes first.” Farrell admits Brown’s experience will be missed in the critical showdown with Ireland, but views Goode as a very capable deputy. “Mike has been in great form. He’s a guy who stands up in pressure situations and performs extremely well. With the young back line we have, he’s been a massive help for us,” Farrell said.
Saricens’ Alex Goode will take Brown’s place but he will not be the only change to the squad with Exeter’s Jack Nowell who has ousted Gloucester’s Jonny May and is set to start on the left wing at the Aviva Stadium. May has paid the price for a couple of costly errors in this season’s Six Nations and is among 10 players released by Stuart Lancaster.
England will fly to Dublin on Friday. “We’ve had to make some tough decisions but it’s a good position to be in,” Lancaster said. “Those players going back to their clubs have another big weekend ahead to lay down a marker for later England probable team to face Ireland A Goode (Saracens); A Watson (Bath), J Joseph (Bath), L Burrell (Northampton), J Nowell (Exeter Chiefs); G Ford (Bath), B Youngs (Leicester); J Marler (Harlequins), D Hartley (Northampton), D Cole (Leicester), D Attwood (Bath), G Kruis (Saracens), J Haskell (Wasps), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Vunipola (Saracens).
Replacements: T Youngs (Leicester), M Vunipola (Saracens), K Brookes (Newcastle) or H Thomas (Bath), T Croft (Leicester), N Easter (Harlequins), R Wigglesworth (Saracens), D Cipriani (Sale), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester).
Additional player: C Pennell (Worcester).
Ireland’s Jordi Murphy on the other-hand has said that they will be able to handle the “huge physicality” of England’s back row in Sunday’s. Murphy is primed to step in at No8 for Ireland, with Jamie Heaslip recuperating from the back injury inflicted by Pascal Papé’s knee against France on the 14th of February.The Leinster back-row is expected to start against England in Heaslip’s absence. Munster’s captain O’Mahony and Leinster’s Sean O’Brien will add experience and steel around the talented but green Murphy when the Six Nations’ two unbeaten sides meet at the Aviva Stadium.
O’Mahony believes Murphy, 23, has all the credentials to cope with England’s bullish back row of James Haskell, Chris Robshaw and Billy Vunipola.“Jordi is a quality player: he’s well rounded, well able to carry hard and do the grunt-work, but he’s got a good set of skills,” said O’Mahony. “He’s got a lovely pass and he’s a good lineout option: he’s a quality all-rounded player.England are a hugely physical side and that always starts with your pack. Guys like Haskell have brought a huge physicality to what they do. Vunipola, guys like Dave Attwood are really stepping up to the mark.They are physical guys: they are always looking to get them on the front foot. Whenever England are on the front foot, it stems from their pack.”
Ireland have called Ulster’s Roger Wilson and Munster’s Billy Holland into their 36-man training squad as they step up preparations to host England at the weekend which is made up of the following:
Forwards: Rory Best, Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Iain Henderson, Billy Holland, Mike McCarthy, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Jordi Murphy, Sean O’Brien, Paul O’Connell, Tommy O’Donnell, Peter O’Mahony, Mike Ross, Dominic Ryan, Richardt Strauss, Devin Toner, Roger Wilson.
Backs: Isaac Boss, Tommy Bowe, Darren Cave, Gordon D’Arcy, Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Robbie Henshaw, Felix Jones, David Kearney, Rob Kearney, Ian Keatley, Ian Madigan, Conor Murray, Jared Payne, EoinReddan, Jonathan Sexton, Simon Zebo.
The best rugby prediction would suggest that England might just manage to squeeze past Ireland as long as the don’t give away too many penalties in the own half as they will be punished!