Haskell to face Ireland as Tuilagi starts on the bench
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 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 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.
England team to play Ireland in the RBS 6 Nations at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on Sunday, February 10 (kick-off 3pm):
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).