Jones drops Care and Ford in major England rugby shake-up


Bagshot (United Kingdom) (AFP)

Eddie Jones tried to draw a line under his disparaging comments about Ireland and Wales as he announced a raft of changes to England's side for their Six Nations finale.

The Australian dropped half-backs Danny Care and George Ford, two of 10 alterations, three of them positional, to his starting XV for Saturday's match at Twickenham against newly-crowned champions Ireland, who are bidding for a Grand Slam.

Jones, yet to lose a Twickenham Test as England boss, reiterated his apologies for calling Ireland "scummy" and Wales a "shit little place" after a video of a speech he gave to a team sponsor last year emerged on Wednesday.

"I'd just like to say I've apologised for the remarks," Jones told reporters at England's Bagshot training base, southwest of London

"I sincerely mean that and I really don't have anything else to say on the matter."

Saracens scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth starts in place of Care and will resume his club partnership with Owen Farrell, normally a centre for England but now at fly-half instead of childhood friend Ford.

Jones decided to perform major surgery to his team following England's 22-16 loss to France in Paris last weekend -- a defeat that ended their hopes of a third successive Six Nations title under the Australian coach.

Ben Te'o filled the inside centre position vacated by Farrell to form a midfield duo with Jonathan Joseph after both men had been competing for the same place for most of this tournament.

Meanwhile wing Elliot Daly was passed fit following a foot problem.

Up front, fit-again hooker Dylan Hartley returns as captain after missing the defeat in Paris with a calf injury.

Jones also reshaped the back-row after tournament-ending injuries to Nathan Hughes and Courtney Lawes.

Their places were taken by Sam Simmonds in at No 8 and James Haskell, selected at openside, with Chris Robshaw moving across to blindside flanker.

George Kruis came in for Joe Launchbury at lock and prop Kyle Sinckler started instead of Dan Cole.

"We need to get on the front foot against Ireland and we've selected a team to do that," said Jones.

"It's good to have Dylan back from injury, he trained superbly yesterday (Wednesday). We've gone for an Owen, Te'o and Joseph midfield and we feel they can get us on the front foot."

- Hartley 'energy' -

Hartley regained the captaincy from stand-in skipper Farrell and Jones said: "It's not what was missing in Paris, it's what Dylan brings to the side.

"He brings energy and enthusiasm, he's a tough guy and he's a good captain."

Meanwhile Hartley said: "I'm excited to be out there this weekend. We want to finish the tournament on a good result."

England are bidding to avoid three Test defeats in a row for the first time under Jones and Northampton hooker Hartley added: "We obviously had a bit of learning over the last few weeks but we're hungry to get a result.

"Every setback, every disappointment, everything's just learning for us and it's part of our journey."

Jones, yet to lose a Twickenham Test as England boss, was well aware of the task at hand, saying: "Ireland is a very good team.

"We have seen in every game the physical contest has been quite enormous so we have to meet that physical challenge and then play smart tactically,.

"We can't wait to get back to Twickenham and play there," added Jones following succesive away defeats by both Scotland and France.

England team to play Ireland in a Six Nations international at Twickenham on Saturday (1445 GMT)

England (15-1)

Anthony Watson, Jonny May, Jonathan Joseph, Ben Te'O, Elliot Daly; Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth; Sam Simmonds, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw; George Kruis, Maro Itoje; Kyle Sinckler, Dylan Hartley (capt), Mako Vunipola

Replacements: Jamie George, Joe Marler, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Don Armand), Danny Care George Ford, Mike Brown