Jared Payne in for Ireland’s final Six Nations battle against England

Joe Schmidt has rung the changes as his side attempt to prevent England from claiming back-to-back Grand Slams.

Jared Payne will make his first appearance of the tournament, starting at full-back with Keith Earls and Simon Zebo on the wings.

Conor Murray has failed to shake off his shoulder problem and will miss Ireland's finale with England, while Schmidt has dropped lock Devin Toner.

Earls has shaken off his groin complaint to start on the wing, but Schmidt sprung a surprise with his decision to drop lineout co-ordinator Toner.

Full-back Kearney has suffered a knee injury, opening the door for Payne to feature for the first time since suffering a lacerated kidney in November.

"With Conor Murrray we fitness-tested him today and we felt he wasn't quite 100 per cent," said Ireland boss Schmidt.

"We just felt if we lost him early in the game we would be vulnerable.

"Iain Henderson came off the bench and did really well last week.

"Between Donnacha Ryan and Dev (Toner) we just wanted to give him a chance to start. Donnacha also did well last week, so it was just trying to get that balance.

"Rob Kearney has got a knee injury and is unavailable to be selected. It probably won't be too long but needs a bit of further investigation."

Ireland will certainly view losing British and Irish Lions scrum-half Murray as a huge blow ahead of the England showdown.

England are chasing a second-successive grand slam and a world-record 19th straight win at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Murray and Johnny Sexton have built one of the standout half-back partnerships in northern hemisphere rugby, and Ireland have tended to rely on the duo's stewardship in their finest moments.

Ireland are bidding to avoid losing to all three home nations rivals in one championship for the first time since 1998, and must now do so without several of their most trusted lieutenants.

"There's still an opportunity to finish second which is a massive thing for us," said Schmidt.

"We can still attain the target of second place, so there's still a heck of a lot for us to gain individually and collectively."

Ireland team: Jared Payne, Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Simon Zebo, Johnny Sexton, Kieran Marmion; Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, Donnacha Ryan, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.

Rplacements: Niall Scannell, Cian Healy, John Ryan, Devin Toner, Peter O’Mahony, Luke McGrath, Paddy Jackson, Andrew Conway.


 

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