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6 Nations

PREVIEW: Ireland Stick with Some Big Guns for Italy

Irish team named with a few new faces in the pack.

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ireland have confirmed their 23 to take on Italy and they are not resting a couple of big players for Sunday’s encounter in the Stadio Olimpico.

With the likes of Wales taking the opportunity against the Azzurri to rest many Ireland have decided to only change players in the pack with the back-line the same as two weeks ago.

Dave Kilcoyne and Sean Cronin come into the front row in place of Cian Healy and Rory Best respectively. Remarkably this will be Cronin’s 68th test but his first ever 6 Nations start. Completing the trio is the ever-reliable Tadhg Furlong.

Behind them Ultan Dillane slots joins Quinn Roux, after his brilliant performance off the bench against the Scots and his man of the match performance for Connacht last weekend.

In the back-row, Peter O’Mahony is captain with Best on the bench, with Sean O’Brien on the opposite side, while Jordi Murphy has a chance at eight as Jack Conan is suffering from abdominal tightness.

The backs are the same as two weeks ago against Scotland with Conor Murray at scrum-half and Johnny Sexton at fly-half, with Bundee Aki and Chris Farrell continuing their partnership in the centre.

Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls remain on the wings, with Rob Kearney finishing up the XV.

On the bench Ireland have some serious firepower with Jack McGrath, Iain Henderson and Andrew Conway returning to the squad. While Jack Carty could make his 6 Nations debut if he comes on.

The Italian’s who are missing star captain Sergio Parisse, announced their team earlier and Ireland will have to be wary of some key men in the line-up.

Andrea Lovotti, Leonardo Ghiraldini, and Simone Ferrari start in the front-row, with Federico Ruzza and Dean Budd behind them.

The pack is made up by Jimmy Tuivaiti, Mazime Mbanda, and the hugely impressive Abraham Steyn, who will look to lead the team in the absence of Parisse.

Tito Tebaldi is at scrum-half and will be partnered by Tomasso Allan at fly-half, while Luca Morisi slots in beside the electric Michele Campagnaro in the centre.

Angelo Esposito and Edoardo Padovani are on the wings with Jayden Hayward making up the XV at full-back.

Irish-born Ian McKinley may have a part to play from the bench if he gets on.

It had been questioned whether there would be a vast amount of changes to the team that won last time out, but it seems as though there wasn’t much choice for Ireland.

Head coach Joe Schmidt confirmed that Joey Carbery has a slight hamstring problem and therefore is unable to take part in the game.

As mentioned above Conan is injured too, while Robbie Henshaw is still getting back up to top nick and Jordan Larmour injured his finger during the week and they are resting him.

Schmidt explained that even if Carbery was fit Sexton would have probably started ahead of him in Rome.

“I think we probably would have started Johnny anyway, to be honest. He’s had very little game time since the Munster game in December, whereas Joey has been really resilient this season and has had plenty of game time,” he said.

He also told the media how some players have earned their way into the team, while saying others deserved a rest.

“Some of it (the selection) is to offer an opportunity, to offer a reward to what we’ve seen in training so far like Dave Kilcoyne and Ultan Dillane – it gives us a little bit more confidence when Ultan goes back to Connacht last week and get the man of the match. Across the board those guys have earned their opportunity – and it gives us the opportunity to give some guys the weekend off,” he added.

The two sides last met in November when Ireland ran out 54-7 winners in Chicago.

Ireland are currently fourth in the table after the opening two rounds and will be looking to build on their win in Murrayfield last time out while Italy will be hoping to avoid a 20th straight defeat in the competition when they host the reigning champions.

6 Nations

May Issues Injury Update

England ace Jonny May has provided the public with an injury update after undergoing surgery

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(Photo by David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England winger Jonny May has taken to social media to provide the public with an update on his fractured cheekbone.

The 29-year-old picked up the injury early on in England’s win over Wales in the Six Nations and was forced off. It was later revealed that he would have to undergo surgery, but following that he has said he is raring to go and be sharper than before. 

“It’s never good picking up an injury but I will use this as an opportunity to regenerate/sharpen up and will be doing everything I can to get back on the pitch as soon as possible,” he said in his post. 

There is no exact timeline on when May could return to Premiership side Leicester Tigers and feature, with the club claiming he will miss an “extended period” after the surgery. 

However, with many leagues across the globe putting a halt to their campaigns due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports claim that the Premiership will follow suit in the next couple of days meaning it means May might not miss much rugby at all while injured. 

Depending on how it all works out May will probably be aiming for a return before the summer in order to get some minutes under his belt before England take on Japan in their two-test tour. 

It’s all up in the air at the moment, but it’s good to know that May is on the mend and relishing a return to play.

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6 Nations

Wales Switch Four for Scotland Game

Wales have made four changes to their starting line-up for this weekend’s Six Nations clash with Scotland

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(ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has made a total of four changes to his starting XV for this Saturday’s Six Nations game with Scotland in the Principality Stadium at 14 15.

Three of the four changes come in the pack with Wyn Jones and WillGriff John coming into the front-row, while Cory Hill comes in for Jake Ball in the second-row, in what will be his first test start for over a year. 

The only alteration in the backs sees Rhys Webb take the place of Gareth Davies, who drops to the bench. 

Elsewhere it’s the same as last time out against England with Ken Owens in the front-three alongside Jones and John, while Hill links up with captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row, with the skipper set to equal the world record for test caps with 148 during the game. 

The back-row has remained the same with Ross Moriarty staying in as blindside-flanker, Justin Tipuric continues on the openside and Josh Navidi remains at No 8. 

Webb partners Dan Biggar in the half-backs, while Hadleigh Parkes and Nick Tompkins are once again used in the centre-pairing. 

Liam Williams takes his place on the left-wing again, with George North on the right and Leigh Halfpenny finishes off the starting XV from full-back. 

On the bench there is a huge amount of talent with the likes of Rhys Carre, Taulupe Faletau and Johnny McNicholl joining Davies among the replacements. 

Speaking ahead of the game Pivac paid tribute to his captain and hopes the team can get a much-needed win. 

“Saturday is a great opportunity for us to wrap up the campaign with a big performance at home in Cardiff. We want to finish with the performance we know we can deliver and we have been working hard to get there. Alun Wyn is one of the most iconic figures in the game, he is our leader and I’m delighted for him as he continues to set the bar across the game,” he said. 

Wales will hope to avoid a fourth defeat in a row when they take on the Scots on Saturday, but they come up against a side who are on a high after seeing off Italy and France in their last two games. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below. 

Starting XV: 

Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Liam Williams; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, WillGriff John; Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones (C); Ross Moriarty, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi

Replacements: 

Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre, Leon Brown, Will Rowlands, Taulupe Faletau, Gareth Davies, Jarrod Evans, Johnny McNicholl

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6 Nations

Scotland Change Three for Welsh Test

Scotland have made a total of three changes to their starting line-up for their final game in this year’s Six Nations against Wales

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made three changes to his starting XV for this Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Wales at the Principality Stadium at 14 15.

All the changes come in the forwards with Stuart McInally taking over at hooker from Fraser Brown, who in turn drops to the bench.

Like Brown, Scott Cummings also move to the replacements as Sam Skinner takes a spot in the second-row and lastly Magnus Bradbury replaces Nick Haining at No 8, with Haining currently ill.

Elsewhere it’s as you where from the team that defeated France last weekend with Rory Sutherland and Zander Fagerson either side of McInally in the front-row, while Skinner joins Grant Gilchrist in the engine-room.

Jamie Ritchie continues as blindside-flanker, with Hamish Watson on the openside and Bradbury completes the pack from No 8.

Ali Price remains at scrum-half, with Adam Hastings at fly-half, and they have Sam Johnson and Chris Harris outside them in the midfield pairing.

Blair Kinghorn is once again on the left-wing, with two-try hero from last weekend Sean Maitland continuing on the right and Stuart Hogg captains the side from full-back.

There is a mix of experience and youth on the bench with the likes of Brown and Cummings being joined by Matt Fagerson and Kyle Steyn among the replacements.

Speaking ahead of the game Townsend admitted he is hoping that his team can build on their win last week.

“We set out this season to improve our consistency over a run of five tough games, something we have done well so far. We’ve stayed in the fight in every game, which is a credit to how hard the players have worked in training and during the Tests. It’s also been encouraging to see how well the players have grown together and have taken on board the input from new coaches, Steve (Tandy) and Pieter (de Villiers), who have done a great job in their first season with the team. We have huge respect for the Welsh team, who narrowly missed out on a World Cup final a few months ago. They are well-coached and have some outstanding players. It will be a fantastic occasion and one last opportunity to play to our potential in this championship,” he said.

Scotland will hope that they can pull off a first win on Welsh soil for 18 years on Saturday and know victory will see them finish above their rivals in the table. However, they will face a Welsh team desperate to avoid a fourth loss in a row.

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

  1. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) – 76 caps
  2. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 48 caps
  3. Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 18 caps
  4. Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps
  5. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 21 caps
  6. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 20 caps
  7. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 32 caps
  8. Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh) – 7 caps
  9. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) – 37 caps
  10. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 29 caps
  11. Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) – 7 caps
  12. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 42 caps
  13. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 18 caps
  14. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 32 caps
  15. Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh) – 14 caps

Replacements:

  1. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 50 caps
  2. Allan Dell (London Irish) – 32 caps
  3. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 38 caps
  4. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – 12 caps
  5. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 6 caps
  6. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps
  7. Duncan Weir (Worcester Warriors) – 28 caps
  8. Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) – 1 cap

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