/ Six Nations 2016

New boys can inspire Ireland - Ronan O'Gara

Updated: Saturday, 27 Feb 2016 16:48 | Comments

Josh van der Flier makes his Irish bow
Josh van der Flier makes his Irish bow

Former Ireland international fly-half Ronan O’Gara believes that the introduction of Josh van der Flier and Stuart McCloskey will give Ireland a big boost in their Six Nations clash with England (4.50pm).

Leinster’s van der Flier and Ulster’s McCloskey will both make their international debuts for Ireland in Tickenham.

Flanker Van der Flier, 22, comes in for the injured Sean O'Brien, while centre McCloskey replaces Jared Payne, after the New Zealander failed to recover from a hamstring strain.

Robbie Henshaw moves out to number 13, with 23-year-old McCloskey named at inside centre.

O'Gara claims that both players are in the starting XV on merit and that their inclusion can give Ireland a mental edge.

"I think they deserve it," O’Gara told 2fm’s Game On. "McCloskey has been knocking on the door for a while and he’s been training with them.

"It’s a good move from Joe because now all of a sudden the focus is on these two players and the senior players can concentrate on their own job.

"The team needed a little bit of excitement and McCloskey is statistically the player who beat the most players in the Champions Cup this year so that’s a good level that will give him a lot of confidence.

"Van der Flier looks like a freak, he looks like a real power athlete and I think there will be a great focus in the dressing room on the fact that these guys are getting their first caps.

"You have to make the day special and I think Ireland will really tap into that," he added.

O’Gara also warned about giving the English team too much respect in Twickenham and claimed that the current Red Rose team has been put up on a pedestal that they don’t deserve.

"The English team, it’s the English club players in a different jersey so it’s important for the Irish players to remember that the English players have won absolutely nothing," he said.

"They’ve been put on a pedestal that they don’t deserve and this crop of players haven’t done anything. It goes back to the Martin Johnson and Jonny Wilkinson era that the English teams were built upon and feared.

"This team haven’t had club success, they haven’t had international success and it’s important that Ireland’s players remember that because they've been far more successful. "

Follow England v Ireland live from 4.40pm on RTÉ2, from 4.30pm on RTÉ 2fm and via the live blog on RTÉ News Now and RTÉ.ie.

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