Ireland’s management has insisted the team will not miss a beat despite the late change to the pack for tomorrow’s Twickenham showdown.
Regular starting lock Iain Henderson, named on Wednesday by Andy Farrell for the Guinness Six Nations third-round clash with England, was released from the squad to be with his wife at the birth of his son, their second child.
Henderson’s absence sees Devin Toner restored to the starting line-up for the first time since August when he played in the opening World Cup warm-up Test at home to Italy.
Toner, 33, was omitted from Joe Schmidt’s World Cup squad but returned to the fold for the 2020 Six Nations with new boss Farrell naming him on the bench for the games against Scotland and Wales.
Toner, who will partner James Ryan in the second row, is set to win his 70th cap with his place on the bench going to Connacht’s Ultan Dillane, who last featured for Ireland last March when he was a second-row replacement in the Six Nations home win over France.
Ireland assistant coach John Fogarty and Ireland captain Johnny Sexton spoke yesterday of their happiness for both the absent Henderson and promoted Toner.
“Faz was speaking with Iain during the week to see how it would all turn out,” scrum coach Fogarty explained. “They spoke a bit (Thursday) night and this morning and it became clear this morning. We had planned during the week, in the eventuality that it would happen, that Dev is there and Ulty is there.
“We’re delighted for him, a little baby boy. The boys are ready, they had a good week of prep so all is good.”
Sexton said he was delighted for Leinster team-mate Toner.
“It’s brilliant for him, he’s bounced back really well. Obviously, everyone has setbacks through their career and he had a big one at a bad time for him but he has bounced back well. You saw by the reception that he got against Scotland, I’ve never heard a crowd cheer so loud for a lineout win. We were giving him a bit of stick about it but it just shows what everyone thinks of him. All the lads are delighted for him.”