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The Irish players in jovial mood yesterday
James Crombie
There Wont Be Many Changes
2 February 2010, 8:18 am
By Chris Byrne
Despite some alarming suggestions since the defeat in Paris, there are unlikely to be too many changes when Declan Kidney announces his starting XV for the RBS Six Nations game against England.
Jerry Flannery's absence through suspension means that Rory Best will start but expect that to be the only change in the front row. Debate about the tight head position should have lasted all of about five seconds with John Hayes nominated to win his 100th cap.

The other given up front is that the back-row will remain the same and that, even if Sean O'Brien hadn't suffered his unfortunate and untimely injury.

That leaves the second row the only area for possible change up front with Leo Cullen vying with fit again Donncha O'Callaghan. Cullen has done little wrong in his outings to date but O'Callaghan not only brings a greater physicality and presence but also seems to bring the best out of Paul O'Connell and it will be no surprise if he relegates Cullen to the bench.

Kidney will not want to tinker too much with his backline and although there are suggestions that Keith Earls may start at full back the call up for Geordan Murphy means probably not with the Leicester Tigers wearing the 15 alongside Earls, Tommy Bowe, Gordan D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll.

It's then down to whether Ronan O'Gara or Johnny Sexton gets the nod for the out-half berth and it may be the case that Magners League form will work in Sexton's favour - not that it helped Peter Stringers' cause - but if Sexton is preferred he will almost certainly be partnered by Tomas O'Leary.

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