England head coach Eddie Jones has named his side for this weekend’s Guinness Six Nations match against Wales.
Courtney Lawes returns to the side as blind-side flanker and is named captain.
Kyle Sinckler will make his 50th appearance for England. The prop made his debut against South Africa in November 2016. Vice-captains Ellis Genge (loose-head prop) and Luke Cowan-Dickie (hooker) join him in the front row.
Maro Itoje and Charlie Ewels are named as locks. Tom Curry (vice-captain) stays at open-side flanker and Alex Dombrandt is No. 8.
Manu Tuilagi returns from injury at inside centre and vice-captain Henry Slade is outside centre. Marcus Smith is fly half and Harry Randall is scrum half.
Jack Nowell (left) and Max Malins (right) are at wing and Freddie Steward is full back.
Ben Youngs could become England’s most-capped men’s player of all time as he is named as finisher. Youngs equalled Jason Leonard’s record of 114 caps in England’s 33-0 win away to Italy. He made his debut in March 2010 against Scotland.
Jamie George, Joe Marler, Will Stuart, Nick Isiekwe, Sam Simmonds, George Ford and Elliot Daly complete the finishers.
Jones said: “We’ve prepared very well for this game, the squad have really come together on and off the pitch.
“Wales are a good, tough side and Six Nations champions and it will make for an exciting Test match in front of a full Twickenham crowd.
“We’ve got a talented, young, hungry squad who have trained with real intensity this week. We’re ready to go at them and can’t wait to play in front of our supporters again.
“It will also be a special match with two significant milestones for Ben and Kyle, both of who have made outstanding contributions to English rugby so far in their careers. We congratulate them and we know there is more to come ahead for them.”
The match is live on ITV and BBC Radio 5 Live (4.45pm KO).
15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 7 caps)
14. Max Malins (Saracens, 12 caps)
13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 45 caps) (VC)
12. Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 46 caps)
11. Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 36 caps)
10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 7 caps)
9. Harry Randall (Bristol Bears, 3 caps)
1. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 33 caps) (VC)
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 33 caps) (VC)
3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 49 caps)
4. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 28 caps)
5. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 53 caps)
6. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 90 caps) (C)
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 38 caps) (VC)
8. Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 6 caps)
16. Jamie George (Saracens, 63 caps)
17. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 76 caps)
18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 17 caps)
19. Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, 5 caps)
20. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 11 caps)
21. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 114 caps)
22. George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 79 caps)
23. Elliot Daly (Saracens, 54 caps)
Wales senior men’s head coach Wayne Pivac has named his team to face England at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 26 February (KO 4.45pm live on ITV and S4C).
Taulupe Faletau, who was recalled to the squad earlier this week following his return from injury, is selected at number 8. He features for the first time since playing against France in last year’s Guinness Six Nations.
Elsewhere in the back row Ross Moriarty switches to blind-side flanker and Taine Basham moves back to open-side flanker after an outing at blind side against Scotland.
Alex Cuthbert will win his 50th cap for Wales this weekend after being selected on the wing. Josh Adams returns from injury to start also at wing, while Liam Williams remains at fullback.
Among the replacements Leon Brown (tight-head prop) is in line to make his first appearance for Wales since last July. Kieran Hardy and Gareth Anscombe, who last featured for Wales in the autumn against Fiji and South Africa respectively, are named as half back cover. Jac Morgan is the other change to the bench from the Wales 23 versus Scotland at Principality Stadium.
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac said: “We’re very pleased to have the experienced Toby Faletau back. He’s trained well during the week and got 80 minutes under his belt last week. From our point of view he brings a lot of experience so we’re very excited to have Toby back.
“I’m also really pleased for Alex Cuthbert to get fifty Tests for his country. It’s a massive achievement. And it’s also great to have Josh Adams back from injury. They are two good players. That means Louis Rees-Zammit is the unfortunate one this week that misses out. But we’ve looked at the opposition we’re playing and niggly injuries that players pick up from time to time and we think that in this particular match, the way the game will go, that Alex and Josh are the right selection.
“Clearly everyone loves playing at home and it’s a first home game of the Guinness Six Nations for England. They will be tough opposition, they always are and both teams are still in this competition so there’s a lot at stake.
“It’s a big game. We had a great result against them last year but we’re going to have to play very, very well to get the same result this year.
“We played well against Scotland, but we’ve challenged the boys to make sure that we have that same effort away from home this week.”
Wales senior men’s team to face England (Saturday 26 February, KO 4.45pm. Live on ITV and S4C)
15. Liam Williams (Scarlets – 76 caps)
14. Alex Cuthbert (Ospreys – 49 caps)
13. Owen Watkin (Ospreys – 28 caps)
12. Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 18 caps)
11. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 36 caps)
10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints – 97 caps), captain
9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 31 caps)
1. Wyn Jones (Scarlets – 40 caps)
2. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 25 caps)
3. Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 62 caps)
4. Will Rowlands (Dragons – 15 caps)
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 31 caps), vice-captain
6. Ross Moriarty (Dragons – 51 caps)
7. Taine Basham (Dragons – 9 caps)
8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby – 86 caps)
16. Dewi Lake (Ospreys – 2 cap)
17. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 7 caps)
18. Leon Brown (Dragons – 20 caps)
19. Seb Davies (Cardiff Rugby – 14 caps)
20. Jac Morgan (Ospreys – 1 cap)
21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 8 caps)
22. Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys – 29 caps)
23. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets – 94 caps)
Sean O’Brien to retire from rugby
London Irish can confirm Seán O’Brien is set to retire from rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.
The back-row forward will bring a storied 14-year career to a conclusion this summer after two-and-a-half years with the Exiles.
O’Brien spent eleven seasons with his home province of Leinster, winning four Pro12/ Pro14 league titles, four Heineken Cup/ Champions Cup honours and an Amlin Challenge Cup, whilst also earning the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011.
He was capped 56 times for Ireland between 2009 and 2019 and represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours, firstly to Australia in 2013 and then to New Zealand in 2017.
O’Brien joined London Irish in December 2019 and has played a vital part across three successful seasons in west London, becoming a fan favourite amongst the Exile Nation.
On his decision to retire, O’Brien stated: “After much deliberation and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have decided to retire from playing professional rugby at the end of the season.
“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British & Irish Lions.
“As a 20-year-old, I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the Leinster jersey, and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008, I never imagined what would then follow over the next 14 years.
“A special mention must go to Colin McEntee for his ‘big brother’ approach when I joined the academy.
“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career.
“At an international level, I feel privileged to have won 56 caps for Ireland.
“I gave everything I could possibly give, and I will always look back with great pride at every time I pulled on the Irish jersey to represent my country, my county, my friends, and family.
“I feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had but none of it would have been possible without the support of so many people.
“Firstly, I would like to thank my Mam and Dad for taking me to Ballon Rathoe Community Games and then Tullow RFC when I was 8 years old.
“They took me to every sport in my area which gave me the exposure to all types of sport.
“They were the perfect role models who taught me to not be afraid of hard work, which certainly helped me progress my career and I can’t thank them enough.
“I was lucky to play alongside some great players and under some brilliant managers and coaches during my time at Tullow, Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the Lions and I would like to thank every one of them.
“I would also like to thank the backroom staff at each of those clubs, they all showed me fantastic support during my time with them.
“I would like to say a special thank you to some people who believed in me early on in my career, who are sadly no longer with us.
“Jim Kealy (Tullow RFC) and David Wilkie (Edenderry RFC) always said the right thing to me and gave me direction when needed.
“Away from rugby, I feel lucky to have had such a close group of friends that I have always been able to count and rely on throughout the course of my career.
“Thanks to all of you, especially James Foley and Daniel Davey.
“Finally, the most important thank you is reserved for my family.
“I can’t thank my Mum, Dad and brothers (Stephen and William) sisters (Caroline and Alex) enough for their unconditional support over the years.
“It has meant everything to me and to have 6 nephews watching means the world to me.
“There is still a lot of rugby to be played this season before the time comes to hang up my boots, and I am fully focused on giving my all in the London Irish jersey until then.
“I’m going to soak up every minute I get on the pitch and look forward to helping the team wherever I can.
“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be.
“I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”
Dan Leavy to retire
It has been announced that Leinster Rugby back row Dan Leavy is to retire from the game with immediate effect.
The 27-year-old has played 79 times for Leinster Rugby since his debut against Edinburgh Rugby in October 2014 and has also won 11 Ireland caps.
Unfortunately, Leavy suffered a significant knee injury against Ulster Rugby in March 2019, and following expert medical opinion, and despite his best efforts, he has been advised to retire.
Speaking to leinsterrugby.ie, Leavy said, “I have done everything I can to come back from the knee injury I suffered in 2019 but unfortunately I can’t do any more or ask any more of my body.
“I’d like to thank Andy Williams, my surgeon, and Karl Denvir, my physio in Leinster, for all that they have done for me in the years since then. I can take solace from the fact that I tried everything over the last three years.
“From the early days in Old Belvedere to my time in St Michael’s College, all I wanted was to pull on a Leinster Rugby jersey. And then when you achieve that, it’s an Ireland jersey.
“I am very proud of all that I achieved in my short time as a professional.
“Some amazing highs with my brothers in blue and in green and I am beyond grateful for those days and those moments especially the highs of 2018 in Bilbao, the Aviva Stadium and Twickenham.
“More than that I am proud of how I carried myself, in particular over the last few years, and I hope I represented my club, my country, my family and friends to the best of my abilities in those years. I am beyond grateful to them all for their support and in particular to my mum and dad, Eilish and Donal, my sister, Rachel, and my brother, Adam.
“I am also very grateful to Leo Cullen. Leo has been an unbelievable support to me over the last few years. On the field, and off, and I cannot thank him enough.
“Not many people get to enjoy and experience what I have over the last 10 years representing my school, my club and my country.
“This is not the end I had hoped for, but as I look back, at the highs and the lows, they have all been shared with the best teammates, family and friends around me, and what more could I ask for?”
Leinster Rugby head coach Leo Cullen said, “Dan was a player earmarked from an early age as a special talent and I think everyone could see that, particularly in those few years in and around 2017, ’18 and ’19, just how dynamic and destructive a player he could be with Leinster and with Ireland where he went on to achieve unprecedented success at that time.
“While the public have seen very little of Dan since his injury, we have seen plenty of him in here and we have seen the same determination, character and drive that marked him out on the pitch as one of the best.
“Dan has also received incredible support from his family and all the medical staff here along the difficult path of trying to return to playing.
“Speaking on behalf of the support staff here at Leinster Rugby it has been a pleasure and privilege to have worked with Dan. He always brought such a positive energy to the group and we will all miss him dearly but would like to acknowledge the significant contribution he has made to the team during his time here.
“Talking to him, Dan is very appreciative of the times he has enjoyed in here with Leinster but now, it’s about us all supporting him as best we can as he starts that next stage in his life.
“I have no doubt that he will apply himself with the same determination that we have seen since he first pulled on a Leinster jersey in 2014 and that he will make a success of himself away from the rugby fields. We wish him well and I hope he knows that there will always be a warm welcome for him here in UCD or down the road at the RDS.”
Leavy, who played seven times for Leinster this season and last appeared against Ulster Rugby last month, made his debut in 2014 and has played 79 times in total for Leinster Rugby scoring 17 tries.
He was an ever-present member of the double-winning Leinster Rugby squad of 2017/18 and he brought that club form to the international stage when making his Irish debut in November 2016 against Canada at Aviva Stadium.
He made his Six Nations debut later that season coming off the bench against England at Aviva Stadium in March 2017.
During his Ireland career, he never lost a game in his 11 caps and was a key member of the Grand Slam-winning side of 2018.
Everyone in Leinster Rugby sends Dan our very best wishes for the future, and thank him most sincerely, for brilliant days in blue.
Dan Leavy Biog:
DOB: 23 May 1994
Height: 6′ 3″
Weight: 16st 7lbs
Leinster Caps / Tries: 79 / 17
Ireland Caps / Tries: 11 / 3
Ireland Team Named For Super Saturday Scotland Showdown￼
Andy Farrell has named the final Ireland Match Day Squad of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations Championship ahead of the Round 5 clash with Scotland at Aviva Stadium this coming Saturday.
Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose are retained in midfield with a back three featuring Hugo Keenan, James Lowe and Mack Hansen, the Connacht wing comes in for Andrew Conway who is being managed for a knee niggle.
The front row of Cian Healy, Dan Sheehan and Tadhg Furlong is retained while Tadhg Beirne and Iain Henderson are named at lock.
Jack Conan is named at No.8 with Caelan Doris switching to the blindside flank and Josh van der Flier makes his eight consecutive start at openside.
The replacements are Rob Herring, Dave Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, Kieran Treadwell, Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery and Robbie Henshaw.
The game which kicks off at 4.45pm will be televised by VIRGIN (ROI) and ITV (NI). Ireland can win the Triple Crown for the first time since 2018 by beating Scotland.
IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Scotland, 2022 Guinness Six Nations, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, March 19, kick-off 4.45pm):
15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 19 caps
14. Mack Hansen (Connacht) 3 caps
13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 41 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 36 caps
11. James Lowe (Leinster) 11 caps
10. Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 104 caps CAPTAIN
9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 16 caps
1. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 115 caps
2. Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 6 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 56 caps
4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 29 caps
5. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 67 caps
6. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 16 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 39 caps
8. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 26 caps
16. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 25 caps
17. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 47 caps
18. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 22 caps
19. Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 4 caps
20. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 83 caps
21. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 95 caps
22. Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 31 caps
23. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 56 caps