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Page last updated at 13:06 GMT, Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Jonathan Sexton handed Ireland start for England game

RBS SIX NATIONS: England v Ireland
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 27 February 2010 Kick-off: 1600 GMT
Coverage: Watch on BBC One, BBC HD channel, Red Button and online; listen on Radio 5 live and Radio Ulster MW; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

Jonathan Sexton
Jonathan Sexton at Ireland's training session on Tuesday

Jonathan Sexton will make his first Six Nations start in Saturday's clash against England after edging out Ronan O'Gara for Ireland's fly-half spot.

Sexton starred against South Africa in November but then sustained injury and O'Gara returned for the opening Six Nations games against Italy and France.

Geordan Murphy replaces injured Rob Kearney at full-back while Rory Best takes over from banned Jerry Flannery.

The other change sees fit-again Donncha O'Callaghan replacing Leo Cullen.

Cullen performed well against Italy and France but O'Callaghan returns to partner his Munster colleague Paul O'Connell at lock.

John Hayes will win his 100th Ireland cap in the Twickenham clash.

The 36-year-old will partner Best and Cian Healy in the front-row.

Tony Buckley replaces Tom Court in the replacements as prop cover although the Ulster player was troubled by a rib injury last week.


With Ronan O'Gara on the bench, Paddy Wallace drops out of the Irish replacements.

Andrew Trimble returns to the Irish bench after being left out of the 22-man squad for the defeat in Paris.

The Ulster winger did start in Ireland's opening win over Italy.

The bench also includes Leo Cullen, Sean Cronin, Shane Jennings and Eoin Reddan.

Sexton's inclusion at fly-half is not a surprise after his impressive showing for Leinster in Saturday's Magners League win over the Scarlets.

The Leinster fly-half produced an impeccable display of place-kicking at the RDS and also scored a late try.

Geordan Murphy's experience will compensate for his lack of rugby

Ireland coach Declan Kidney

Ireland coach Declan Kidney played down his decision to plump for Sexton even though it further loosens O'Gara's grip on the number 10 jersey.

"We're blessed with two out-halves, one with huge experience, the other up and coming," said Kidney.

"I thought it was opportune to give Jon a go this time."

Leicester star Murphy will earn his 64th Irish cap after making his last appearance as a replacement in the Grand Slam clinching win over Wales last March.

The 31-year-old has been restricted to only three recent Guinness Premiership appearances for the Tigers this season since dislocating his shoulder last September.

Kidney acknowledged that Murphy's knowledge of English rugby had been instrumental in his recall.

"Geordan's experience will compensate for his lack of rugby. Twickenham is not a ground he's unfamiliar with," said Kidney.

"He'll be playing against guys who he knows. That was part of the mix in giving him the nod for this one."

Ireland: G Murphy (Leicester), T Bowe (Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Leinster) capt, G D'Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), J Sexton (Leinster), T O'Leary (Munster), C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), J Hayes (Munster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster). Replacements: S Cronin (Connacht), T Buckley (Munster), L Cullen (Leinster), S Jennings (Leinster), E Reddan (Leinster), R O'Gara (Munster), A Trimble (Ulster)

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see also
Centurion Hayes targets World Cup
23 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
England unchanged for Irish clash
23 Feb 10 |  English
Robinson urges England to be bold
21 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Best on 'special' England game
23 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Murphy delight after Ireland recall
23 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Kearney ruled out of England game
18 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
O'Driscoll dismay at Ireland loss
13 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
France 33-10 Ireland
13 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations photos
13 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union

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