Six Nations 2015: England make two changes for Ireland showdown

Jack Nowell and Alex Goode are the only changes from the starting XV that lined up against Italy earlier this month

Stuart Lancaster has confirmed full-back Alex Goode and wing Jack Nowell as the only changes to his starting XV to take on Ireland on Sunday.

The England head coach offered no surprises for the RBS 6 Nations clash with the changes widely expected as Mike Brown failed to get through return-to-play protocols and Jonny May was dropped.

Alex is in good form for Saracens and has been training well over the last few weeks, as has Jack, who is also playing well for Exeter.

Stuart Lancaster

The only other change to England’s match-day squad from thier 47-17 win over Italy is the return of Bath’s Henry Thomas to the bench.

He replaces injured Newcastle Falcons tighthead prop Kieran Brookes, who has hip flexor strain.

For Saracens man Goode, it is a long-awaited return to Test rugby, with his last cap coming in the championship two years ago.

Exeter Chiefs wing Nowell – also in superb form for his club – has not had to wait as long, having played in all five Six Nations matches last year.

“We’ve made minimal changes as we felt the squad have performed well in the first two games,” Lancaster said.

“Alex is in good form for Saracens and has been training well over the last few weeks, as has Jack, who is also playing well for Exeter.

“Both have been pushing hard for selection and I am sure will seize their chance against a high quality Ireland side.”

England are unbeaten from their first two matches in this year’s championship, but face a strong Ireland team on run of nine consecutive wins under Joe Schmidt with the match seen as a potential championship decider.

England: Alex Goode (Saracens); (Bath Rugby), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs); George Ford (Bath Rugby), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), David Attwood (Bath Rugby), George Kruis (Saracens), James Haskell (Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain), Billy Vunipola (Saracens).

Replacements: Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Henry Thomas (Bath Rugby), Nick Easter (Harlequins), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers); Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby).

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