Head coach Eddie Jones sought to draw a line under the derogatory comments made about Ireland and Wales as he performed radical surgery on the team for England’s final NatWest Six Nations match.
Jones was forced to apologise on Wednesday night after footage emerged of the Australian referring to the newly-crowned champions as the “scummy Irish” and Wales as a “little s*** country” during a talk on leadership given last year.
Speaking publicly on the matter for the first time at England’s team announcement press conference yesterday, Jones refused to expand on his remarks beyond issuing a further apology.
“I’d just like to say I’ve apologised for the remarks. I sincerely mean that,” Jones said.
“I really don’t have anything else to say on the matter. I’m happy to obviously answer questions on a fantastic game that’s coming up but I think the other matter is dead. I’ve made the statement, I don’t need to say anything else on it. I think I’ve made every statement that I need to make on it.”
Jones insisted the comments will have little influence on the desire of Joe Schmidt’s men to complete only the third tournament clean sweep in their history.
“Ireland are preparing for a Grand Slam, they don’t need any extra motivation,” Jones said.
Asked if he will reconsider giving similar talks in future, Jones replied: “Ah, possibly, yeah. It’s something I’ll reconsider after the game, the only thing I am worried about at the moment is the game.”
The video, which has since been taken down from YouTube, shows Jones addressing an audience on behalf of Fuso, who are linked to England sponsors Mitsubishi. It was uploaded by Fuso in July last year but only came to light on Wednesday.
Ireland face opposition showing a total of ten changes, three of them positional switches, following the 22-16 defeat by France in Paris five days ago.
Stand-off George Ford, pictured, is dropped for only the second time in the Jones era in response to a disappointing Six Nations in which he has struggled to exert any influence behind a pack that has been bullied.
Owen Farrell moves to No 10 with Ben Te’o and Jonathan Joseph forming a new-look centre partnership and Elliot Daly has recovered from his foot injury to continue on the left wing.
Scrum-half Danny Care is demoted to the replacements, making way for Richard Wigglesworth, and Anthony Watson retains his full-back spot ahead of the benched Mike Brown.
There are significant changes to the pack, too, with Dan Cole dropped for Kyle Sinckler at prop and George Kruis picked ahead of Joe Launchbury in the second row.
Knee injuries to Nathan Hughes and Courtney Lawes see Sam Simmonds and James Haskell start, while captain Dylan Hartley is restored at hooker having recovered from a tight calf.