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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Ben Brady/INPHO Connacht man Cian Prendergast.

Prendergast starts at 8 in strong Ireland team to face England

Andy Farrell has brought back many of his key players for Saturday’s clash in Dublin.

ANDY FARRELL HAS named Connacht’s Cian Prendergast at number eight in a strong Ireland team to face England in their World Cup warm-up clash at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday [KO 5.30pm, RTÉ].

It’s a huge opportunity for 23-year-old Prendergast to push his claim for a place in Ireland’s final World Cup squad as he makes his first Test start. He impressed off the bench in the win over Italy two weekends ago.

The twice-capped Kildare man is best known as a blindside flanker but he made four starts at number eight for Connacht last season. His selection comes after Ireland confirmed yesterday that Munster number eight Gavin Coombes was among five players released from the wider World Cup squad.

Prendergast joins returning front-liners Peter O’Mahony and Josh van der Flier in the starting Irish back row to face England on Saturday.

Ross Byrne takes over at out-half in the ongoing absence of Johnny Sexton due to suspension and after Jack Crowley impressed there against Italy.

Farrell has announced a team that otherwise looks close to first-choice as many of Ireland’s key players from this year’s Grand Slam success return.

Andrew Porter and Dan Sheehan get their first outings of the season in the front row, where they’re joined by Tadhg Furlong after his replacement appearance against Italy.

Second row Tadhg Beirne is another promoted into the starting XV and he partners captain James Ryan in the engine room.

Jamison Gibson-Park is back at scrum-half, while Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose return in midfield. The front-line back three of James Lowe, Mack Hansen, and Hugo Keenan will look to pick up where they left off earlier this year.

Keith Earls is included on the Irish bench and will earn his 100th Ireland cap when called upon, while Munster loosehead Jeremy Loughman offers cover at loosehead prop having only joined the squad this week after Dave Kilcoyne picked up an injury issue.

Notably absent is hooker Rónan Kelleher, who didn’t appear against Italy either and is thought to be dealing with an injury concern. Scrum-half Conor Murray and tighthead prop Finlay Bealham are set for their first appearances of the season. 

Ireland (v England):

  • 15. Hugo Keenan
  • 14. Mack Hansen
  • 13. Garry Ringrose
  • 12. Bundee Aki
  • 11. James Lowe
  • 10. Ross Byrne
  • 9. Jamison Gibson-Park
  • 1. Andrew Porter
  • 2. Dan Sheehan
  • 3. Tadhg Furlong
  • 4. Tadhg Beirne
  • 5. James Ryan (captain)
  • 6. Peter O’Mahony
  • 7. Josh van der Flier
  • 8. Cian Prendergast


  • 16. Rob Herring
  • 17. Jeremy Loughman
  • 18. Finlay Bealham
  • 19. Joe McCarthy
  • 20. Caelan Doris
  • 21. Conor Murray
  • 22. Jack Crowley
  • 23. Keith Earls

Referee: Paul Williams [NZR].

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