Australian Mack Hansen, the find of Ireland’s rugby season, has been deprived of the chance of a date with compatriot Eddie Jones in the Six Nations showdown with England.
The hirsute Canberra winger Hansen can count himself unlucky at having been dropped for Saturday’s Twickenham match after a spectacular start to his life in the green shirt.
Instead, James Lowe keeps his place on the left wing while Andrew Conway’s recall to the right means no place in coach Andy Farrell’s plans for Hansen.
He’s not even managed to nail down a spot in the 23 after a brilliant start in the Six Nations with a man-of-the-match performance against Wales on the opening weekend and a superbly taken try in his second outing against France.
The former Brumbies’ flyer Hansen, who represented Australia at Under-20 level, moved over to play provincial rugby for Connacht last year but was quickly snapped up by the Irish, being eligible through his Cork-born mother.
Johnny Sexton returns to captain Ireland in a side showing six changes, with prop Cian Healy winning his 115th cap in place of the injured Andrew Porter and recalls for Conway, fullback Hugo Keenan, center Bundee Aki and lock James Ryan.
Meanwhile, England’s wily Australian coach Jones is up to his old tricks, labeling Ireland “red-hot favourites” for the match which both sides must win if they’re to keep any hope of overhauling France for the title.
Asked about Farrell’s team, Jones smiled on Thursday that even the coffee shop experts think the Irish will win.
“I went to the coffee shop yesterday and the girl says ‘that Irish team must be good, all their ex players think they’re going to win the game and all the ex-England players think they’re going to win the game, ” noted Jones.
“She said, ‘They must be a pretty good team. How you feeling?’
“I said ‘just give me the coffee please’.”
Alex Dombrandt has sufficiently recovered from COVID-19 to secure a place on the bench with Sam Simmonds ready to make his second start of the Championship at No.8.
Tom Curry will continue at openside and Joe Marchant is preferred ahead of Elliot Daly at outside centre.
Freddie Steward, Max Malins, Joe Marchant, Henry Slade, Jack Nowell, Marcus Smith, Harry Randall, Sam Simmonds, Tom Curry, Courtney Lawes (capt), Charlie Ewels, Maro Itoje, Kyle Sinckler, Jamie George, Ellis Genge
Reserves: Jamie Blamire, Joe Marler, Will Stuart, Joe Launchbury, Alex Dombrandt, Ben Youngs, George Ford, Elliot Daly
Hugo Keenan, Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe, Jonathan Sexton (captain), Jamison Gibson-Park; Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Peter O’Mahony, James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Tadhg Furlong, Dan Sheehan, Cian Healy.
Reserves: Rob Herring, Dave Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Robbie Henshaw.