March 16, 2017 / 10:28 AM / in 8 months

Rugby-Watson and Billy Vunipola start for England

BAGSHOT, England, March 16 (Reuters) - Winger Anthony Watson and number eight Billy Vunipola will both start for England in Saturday’s Six Nations showdown with Ireland in Dublin after being selected by Eddie Jones on Thursday for their first starts of the championship.

Vunipola, who has come off the bench in the last two games following his recovery from a knee injury, starts in place of Nathan Hughes, while Watson, who entered the fray early against Scotland last week for the injured Elliot Daly, comes in on the right wing for Jack Nowell.

Daly has passed his concussion protocols and is fit to start on the left wing while Hughes and Nowell join an otherwise unchanged bench.

Victory will secure back-to-back grand slams for England and take their winning run to a tier one world record of 19, overhauling New Zealand’s run of 18 from 2015-16.

England team to play Ireland (1700 GMT):

15-Mike Brown, 14-Anthony Watson, 13-Jonathan Joseph, 12-Owen Farrell, 11-Elliot Daly, 10-George Ford, 9-Ben Youngs; 8-Billy Vunipola, 7-James Haskell, 6-Maro Itoje, 5-Courtney Lawes, 4-Joe Launchbury, 3-Dan Cole, 2-Dylan Hartley (captain), 1-Joe Marler.

Replacements: 16-Jamie George, 17-Mako Vunipola, 18-Kyle Sinckler 19-Tom Wood, 20-Nathan Hughes, 21-Danny Care, 22-Ben Te‘o, 23-Jack Nowell. (Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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