Rugby World Cup 2015: Six Nations winners to face England

Simon Zebo
Simon Zebo also started at full-back in Ireland's warm-up win over Scotland three weeks ago
England v Ireland
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 5 September (kick-off 14:30 BST)
Coverage: Live commentary, 14:30 BST, BBC Radio 5 live and Radio Ulster FM, plus live text commentary online. TV highlights, 18:00 BST, BBC One.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has named a strong team to face England in Saturday's final World Cup warm-up game against England.

The line-up includes 12 of the side which started in the Six Nations-clinching win over Scotland in March.

Changes from that game see Simon Zebo at full-back instead of Rob Kearney with Dave Kearney and Jack McGrath in for Luke Fitzgerald and Cian Healy.

Prop Healy is not risked as he continues his recovery after surgery.

Healy underwent a neck operation in May but he has been named in Ireland's 31-man squad for the World Cup.

The first-choice back-row of Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip are reunited for the first time since the Six Nations with regular half-backs Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton also included.

Paul O'Connell plus other experienced campaigners Rory Best and Mike Ross are also named in the forwards.

O'Connell insisted on playing

Fresh from his Test debut in last weekend's 16-10 defeat by Wales in Dublin, prop Tadhg Furlong is named on a bench which also includes Ulster duo Darren Cave and Chris Henry.

Schmidt said that Rob Kearney had been available for selection despite knee bruising but that he wanted to take another look at Zebo in the full-back role.

"We just felt it was important to get Simon a little bit more time at full-back once we decided he was going to cover full-back for us," said Schmidt.

The Ireland coach added that Keith Earls and Luke Fitzgerald could also have been involved despite picking up knocks last weekend but that he had opted instead to put Cave on the bench.

"Darren Cave is the other guy who has had the least amount of game-time so it was good to get Darren into the group as well," continued the Ireland coach.

Rugby World Cup 2015: England game ideal preparation says Payne

Despite reuniting first-choice lock combination Paul O'Connell and Devin Toner, Schmidt admitted Ulster's Iain Henderson is pressing hard for a starting role in the second row.

"Iain has given us the right sort of headache, without a doubt."

Schmidt added that he had suggested to O'Connell, 35, that he might sit out the Twickenham contest but that the skipper had baulked at the idea.

"I did probably try to muscle the skipper out to be honest, but he wasn't for budging. He felt he needed another game."

Ireland: Simon Zebo (Munster); Tommy Bowe (Ulster), Jared Payne (Ulster), Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Dave Kearney (Leinster); Johnny Sexton (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster); Jack McGrath (Leinster), Rory Best (Ulster), Mike Ross (Leinster); Devin Toner (Leinster), Paul O'Connell (Munster) capt; Peter O'Mahony (Munster), Sean O'Brien (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster).

Replacement: Richardt Strauss (Leinster), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Nathan White (Connacht), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), Chris Henry (Ulster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Ian Madigan (Leinster), Darren Cave (Ulster).

Top Stories