England have pinned their hopes on the ‘kamikaze kids’ providing the missing piece in their World Cup jigsaw.
Team boss has Eddie Jones responded to England’s loss to Wales by unleashing openside duo Sam Underhill and Tom Curry on Ireland at Twickenham tomorrow.
“They are like the kamikaze kids those two,” he warned. “They hit everything that moves! Playing two guys who are pretty good at the breakdown might give us an advantage in that area.”
The pair were selected to start against the Welsh at Twickenham a fortnight ago only for Underhill to pick up a knock and have to pull out.
Slammin’ Sam was told of his selection as he finished a 1,000-piece jigsaw detailing great British figures in history; Curry, while recovering from sleepwalking into a television set.
But both have been passed fit to get stuck into the Irish with Jones reckoning a change to the way refs have interpreted the breakdown this summer will play into their hands.
“There is a lot more contest in the breakdown,” said the Australian, who has also picked playmakers Owen Farrell and George Ford together for the first time in 14 months.
“The tackler is being allowed to stay in the tackle which means the ability to poach has increased. I think that this is potentially an option for us because Curry is definitely big enough to play six.”
Asked to explain his shift in strategy for this game, Jones replied: “Sometimes the opposition team doesn’t allow you to put the batter on the fish, so you’ve got to play a different way.
“You’ve got to fry or grill the fish, find a different way of doing it. That’s all part of the challenge going forward, being adaptable, looking at what’s happening in the game and where we can take it.”
Told he had been labelled a kamikaze kid, Underhill joked that he resented being put in the same category as Curry as “he is a nutter who has injured far more people in training than I have”.
But he then agreed that a “healthy disregard for your own wellbeing is pretty essential if you are playing rugby in general, so I will take that as a compliment”.
Curry, 21, certainly made a huge impact in his first full season of Test rugby, not least when cracking his head open crashing into France star Damian Penaud during the Six Nations.
“I don’t know why Sam is throwing me under the bus,” he fired back. “I’m probably the more noisy one but we’re both branded as pretty weird!”
Ireland make 12 personnel changes and one positional switch from the side which beat Italy, with Leinster fly-half Ross Byrne making his full debut at 10.
England: Daly; Cokanasiga, Tuilagi, Farrell (capt), May; Ford, Youngs; Marler, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Kruis, Curry, Underhill, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, M Vunipola, Cole, Lawes, Wilson, Heinz, Francis, Joseph.
Ireland: R Kearney; Larmour, Ringrose, Aki, Stockdale; R Byrne, Murray; Healy, Best (capt), Furlong, Henderson, Kleyn; O’Mahony, Van der Flier, Stander.
Replacements: Cronin, J McGrath, Porter, Toner, Beirne, L McGrath, Carty, Conway.
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