Ireland trio handed first summer starts against England

Ireland trio Tommy Bowe, Stephen Ferris and David Wallace have been handed their first starts of the summer for Saturday's final World Cup warm-up game against England at the Aviva Stadium.

Bowe and Wallace have not yet featured in the series of build-up games as they completed their recoveries from injury.

Ferris was introduced as a replacement during last week's defeat by France.

Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney and Sean O'Brien are all rested as a precaution as they seek to overcome injury knocks.

O'Driscoll sustained a 'stinger' to his shoulder on Saturday while O'Brien suffered a knee injury.

"Brian's running around outside, but it was prudent for us not to put him into a contact situation on Saturday," said Irish coach Declan Kidney.

"He has made good progress, especially over the last 24 hours, but with the game coming this week and a full tournament coming up, it just wasn't prudent to put him in the mix.

"Sometimes you just need to rest up and get them out of the system."

Kidney is unconcerned by the fitness of O'Brien, Ireland's most consistent performer since the start of the Six Nations.

"Sean will be fine - it wasn't prudent to include him this weekend but, as you can see, he's in training already and he'll work his way back in."

Kearney remains an absentee with a groin injury but again Kidney is confident that he will be fully fit and available for selection for Ireland's opening World Cup Group C game against the USA on 11 September.

The inclusion of Geordan Murphy at full-back, in place of the injured Felix Jones, is one of seven changes from the side which lost to the French in Dublin.

Sean O'Brien
Declan Kidney has allayed fears about the fitness of Sean O'Brien

Keith Earls moves to partner Gordon D'Arcy at centre while Andrew Trimble switches to the left wing to accommodate the return of Bowe.

Ronan O'Gara and Eoin Reddan form the half-back partnership.

Cian Healy has recovered sufficiently from a bruised foot to take his place at loose-head prop and Jerry Flannery is named at hooker following some impressive displays off the bench since returning from a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a calf injury.

Paul O'Connell captains the team in the absence of O'Driscoll.

"Our priority is to get all 30 players match fit with game time under their belts," explained Kidney.

"England have selected a very physical side so we have to get ourselves right and get ready for a physical battle."

O'Connell added that there was "a bit more focus from the boys now that they all know they are on the plane to New Zealand".

Kidney selected his 30-man squad for the World Cup on Monday, with Luke Fitzgerald, John Hayes and Tomas O'Leary among the notable omissions.

Ireland have been beaten in their three World Cup warm-up games to date, losing to Scotland and twice going down to France.

Ireland: G Murphy; T Bowe, K Earls, G D'Arcy, A Trimble; R O'Gara, E Reddan; C Healy, J Flannery, M Ross; D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell (c); S Ferris, D Wallace, J Heaslip.

Replacements: R Best, T Court, D Ryan, D Leamy, C Murray, J Sexton, F McFadden.

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