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6 Nations

Positional switch for Henshaw?

Is Joe doing an ‘Eddie’

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Written by Reynardt Deminey
Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt may surprise the establishment with midfielder Robbie Henshaw possibly taking the field at full-back when Ireland face England in Dublin this Saturday. This comes after Henshaw allegedly trained at full back last week in the absence of regular full-back Rob Kearney.

Even though he has not started a match at no. 15 since 2016, Henshaw has proven experience in playing full-back. He made his breakthrough at provincial level at full-back during the 2012/13 season and he made his debut for Ireland at full-back against the USA in 2013. He has since become established at centre, representing both Ireland and Leinster in this position.

A hamstring injury in the run up to last years win over Argentina, paved the way for Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose to take over the reins as the midfield pairing for Ireland. They have since proven to be a formidable midfield pairing, with Aki especially proving indispensable.

With Henshaw’s return and Aki and Ringrose being fit and ready for Six Nations duty, Coach Schmidt has somewhat of a selection dilemma.

Schmidt may potentially accommodate Henshaw, Aki and Ringrose by omitting Kearney and moving Henshaw to full-back. Stalwart Kearney has had a niggling injury that kept him out of 3/4 last Leinster games and the national training camp.

Talk of this surprise move comes amid talks a few weeks ago that Eddie Jones might move Exeter wing to open side for England during the championship also this switch is a lot more believable.

6 Nations

Ireland Add Final Piece to Backroom Puzzle

Ireland have confirmed their final addition to Andy Farrell’s coaching staff

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(Photo by Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images)

Former England coach Mike Catt has been announced as Ireland’s new attack coach come the end of the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year.

Catt is currently coaching the Italian national side however; he will leave his post following the conclusion of the World Cup and take up the role of Ireland’s attack coach until 2023.

He is the last of the coaches to be named as a part of Andy Farrell’s backroom staff, with Farrell set to take over from Joe Schmidt once the tournament in Japan is completed.

Catt is delighted to be moving on to work with the Irish side but insists that he is solely focused on his current task with Italy.

“I am looking forward to the Rugby World Cup in Japan and seeing the group of players we have here in Italy fulfil their potential and achieve the objectives we have set for ourselves. Obviously, it is an honour to be given this future opportunity with Ireland, but I will focus on that challenge only after I have given my all for Italy and this group of players,” he said.

Farrell and Catt previously worked together while part of England’s coaching set-up for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and has plenty of experience which is appealing to IRFU performance director David Nucifora.

“Mike brings a wealth of experience to the coaching group and has been operating at the highest level of the international game for some time. He was a smart and innovative player, and he brings those attributes and much more besides in his approach to coaching and player development. We feel that we have secured a talented practitioner who will add significant value to the group and to the wider Irish system,” he said.

Along with Catt, Farrell has added John Fogarty as the side’s new scrum coach, while Simon Easterby and Richie Murphy will continue on as forwards specialist and kicking and skills coaches respectively.

Farrell will be hoping that he will take over the reigns following a successful World Cup campaign and will want to hit the ground running having put together a top-quality backroom set-up.

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6 Nations

World Rugby Gives Deadline for Nations Championship

World Rugby have given the 10 unions from the Six Nations and Rugby Championship a final deadline to decide on the Nations Championship

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World Rugby have confirmed that global rugby chiefs will have until Friday to decide whether or not the Nations Championship plans will be backed

The governing body has given the unions of the Six Nations and Rugby Championship nations until the closing of business on Friday of this week to provide a yes or no answer towards their new plans.

For their plans to be progressed World Rugby needs a unanimous decision from the 10 unions.

If that is to happen, they plan to launch their new format in 2022, with winners of the Six Nations and an expanded six-team Rugby Championship going head to head.

The final proposals of the Nations Championship will have to be passed by a vote of the full World Rugby council, however none of this will go ahead unless there is backing from the 10 nations.

Proposals have included creating two-tier tournaments for the Six Nations and Rugby Championship which would include the possibility of relegation or promotion.

A format which Six Nations unions appear to dislike.

As well as this there is the issue of the Pacific Islands, who believe that the creation of such tournaments would mean that they would be less likely to face the top nations in November and therefore be unable to develop as they currently are.

Whatever is to happen will become clearer in the next couple of days and it could be the start of a new era for international rugby.

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6 Nations

Welsh Warrior to Play Trade Outside Wales Post-World Cup?

One of Wales’ finest players may make a move away from the country after the World Cup

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(Photo credit PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Image)

Alun Wyn Jones’ future with the Ospreys is in doubt after his duel contract with the Welsh Rugby Union and the Ospreys runs out at the end of the season.

The Welsh captain has spent his entire career with the Ospreys, but fans expect and are even encouraging the lock to seek a move elsewhere after Shane Williams said his future needed to be sorted.

Jones has previously turned down the chance to move abroad for a better contract, instead remaining in Wales and being a loyal servant to both his country and club.

Having made 125 caps for Wales, their Grand Slam winning captain would be eligible to continue playing for the country if he did move as he more than doubles the required 60-caps for overseas-based players.

Many are already speculating that Jones will be the British & Irish Lions captain for the 2021 tour of South Africa, but some fear a move abroad would prevent Warren Gatland from picking him.

Fans seem to think that Jones deserves to earn more overseas in the twilight of his career and set himself up for a more stable future come the end of his glittering career.

A move to England or France would be most likely with Harlequins fans calling on the club to make a move for Jones after losing Aussie James Horwill this season.

Another possibility for the 33-year-old could be a big-money move to Japan. Either way most of the clubs in Europe or Japan can offer Jones a significant salary rise which he could be tempted by.

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