Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has made six changes to his side to face England on Saturday (4.45pm, live on RTÉ).

Captain Johnny Sexton returns to the starting XV along with Hugo Keenan, Andrew Conway, Bundee Aki, Cian Healy and James Ryan.

"It's always difficult, we've got a good squad," said Farrell. "We've said all along it will be a squad effort that gets us through this competition and puts us in a good position.

"We feel the balance of the team is a good one."

Healy comes in to win his 115th cap after Andrew Porter injured his ankle in the round three win over Italy two weeks ago.

He lines out beside Tadhg Furlong and Dan Sheehan in the front row.

Ryan missed out on the last game with a minor injury and comes back into the team alongside Tadhg Beirne in the second row.

The back row of Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris and Peter O'Mahony, who is preferred to Lions number 8 Jack Conan, remains the same.

"Both great players but we think the balance is right for this game," Farrell told reporters.

"Pete's in good form and is a good emotional leader for us. We know what he brings at the set-piece and breakdown."

Jamison Gibson-Park starts at scrum-half, while Aki is preferred in the centre to Robbie Henshaw, who has to make do with a place on the bench.

Farrell has recalled regular full-back Keenan and winger Conway, while James Lowe keeps his place on the left wing.

"We've all seen it, haven't we? Certainly the progression that we saw in autumn," said Farrell about the New Zealand-born Leinster wing.

"The learnings that he had taken on board to be able to perform on the big stage at international level. It's something we want to see at the weekend.

"He's a big threat ball-in-hand, he also links very well, as does Mack. We all know that he's got a left boot on him as well. James being on the left wing and left-footed is a big advantage for us."

Neither Connacht wing Mack Hansen nor Ulster full-back Michael Lowry are in the match-day squad.

Farrell, whose side sit second in the table, said of the trip: "We've got to make sure they hit a bump in the road. You say they are building through the competition, but we’ve got to put a stop to that.

"We’ve got to go over there and prove to ourselves that there’s a performance in there that’s a step above what we’ve shown already."

England have made three changes from the win against Wales in Round 3, with Sam Simmonds, Jamie George and Joe Marchant all brought into the starting side.

Simmonds takes the place of Alex Dombrandt at number 8, with the Harlequins back rower moving to the bench having spent this week in isolation following a positive Covid-19 test.

Jamie George comes in at hooker with Luke Cowan-Dickie's tournament ended due to a knee injury suffered against Wales. Newcastle's Jamie Blamire takes the extra hooker spot on the bench.

The only change to the backline sees Quins centre Joe Marchant replace Elliot Daly in midfield, partnering Henry Slade.


Ireland: Hugo Keenan; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Cian Healy, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong; Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan; Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Rob Herring, Dave Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Robbie Henshaw.

England: Freddie Steward; Max Malins, Joe Marchant, Henry Slade, Jack Nowell; Marcus Smith, Harry Randall; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, Charlie Ewels; Courtney Lawes (capt), Tom Curry, Sam Simmonds.

Replacements: Joe Marler, Jamie Blamire, Will Stuart, Joe Launchbury, Alex Dombrandt, Ben Youngs, George Ford, Elliot Daly.

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