Six Nations 2017: Billy Vunipola & Anthony Watson return for England

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Vunipola’s (left) last Test start was against Argentina in November, while Watson’s was against Australia in June
Six Nations: Ireland v England
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 18 March Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 live, live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Number eight Billy Vunipola and wing Anthony Watson return to the starting XV as England aim to win the Six Nations Grand Slam against Ireland.

Vunipola replaces Nathan Hughes and Watson comes in for Jack Nowell in the two changes to the side that thrashed Scotland to win the Six Nations.

Elliot Daly is fit to start on the left wing after a head knock.

England are chasing a record-breaking 19th straight win, while victory will also secure back to back Grand Slams.

Flanker Tom Wood is set to win his 50th cap from the bench.

Vunipola made his comeback from a knee injury against Scotland, while Watson returned following a hamstring problem. Both scored tries from the bench in the Calcutta Cup match.

Daly was forced off in the win over Scotland after an illegal tip-tackle that earned Scotland hooker Fraser Brown a yellow card, but has been declared fit to play after tests for a possible concussion.

“We’re very excited ahead of a huge opportunity,” said England head coach Eddie Jones. “It’s going to be quite an occasion in Dublin so we understand we have to be prepared emotionally, physically and mentally.

“Ireland not having anything to play for means they have the courage to fail which frees them up mentally.

“We are a little bit vulnerable because we have already been crowned the Six Nations champions and we had a big win against Scotland, so for us it’s getting the right mind-set for the game.”

Team: Brown; Watson, Joseph, Farrell, Daly; Ford, Youngs; Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Itoje, Haskell, B Vunipola.

Replacements: George, M Vunipola, Sinckler, Wood, Hughes, Care, Te’o, Nowell.

Highlights: England thrash Scotland to retain Six Nations title



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