McGrath retains Ireland place

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Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Jack McGrath has held off the challenge of fit-again British and Irish Lion Cian Healy to start Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam eliminator with England.

Leinster back-rower Jordi Murphy has slotted in for the injured number eight Jamie Heaslip in the only change from Ireland’s 18-11 victory over France on February 14.

Fast-improving 14-cap loosehead McGrath has proved his Test stability in Healy’s absence and has earned sufficient trust from boss Joe Schmidt to retain the number one shirt.

Ireland are gunning for a 10th consecutive victory to equal their all-time win record in Dublin on Sunday, and the highly-influential Healy will doubtless be deployed off the bench in the final quarter.

Healy took a seat on the bench for Ireland’s victory over France, returning to the Test fray following his severe hamstring tear in September.

Head coach Schmidt has resisted the temptation to restore the 27-year-old to his starting line-up, especially given a perceived dominance over England tighthead Dan Cole.

Barcelona-born back-rower Murphy impressed in the tournament-opening 26-3 victory over Italy, when Heaslip missed out through shoulder and knee trouble.

Now the 23-year-old rising star of Leinster has his chance to confirm his Test arrival on the occasion of his seventh cap.

Tommy O’Donnell has recovered from concussion to take a seat on the bench, while fully-fit Eoin Reddan replaces Isaac Boss as the reserve scrum-half.

Ireland and England are the Six Nations’ only remaining unbeaten sides, with Schmidt’s men gunning to retain their title and Stuart Lancaster’s side seeking a fifth straight win over the Irish.

Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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