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Alaalatoa to captain, Nawaqanitawase and Donaldson to debut in Italy

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Allan Alaalatoa will become the 85th Wallabies captain when he leads the side out against Italy in Florence on Saturday afternoon (local time).

The Brumbies leader will skipper his country for the first time and returns to the side after missing last weekend’s one-point loss to current Six Nations champions France in Paris.

He’s one of 11 changes to the starting XV, linking up with hooker Folau Fainga’a and Alstonville product Matt Gibbon in the front row, who earns his first run-on at Test level.

NSW Waratahs speedster Mark Nawaqanitawase will cap off a remarkable year, set to make his Wallabies debut at Stadio Artemio Franchi on the right wing. He combines with Tom Wright and Jock Campbell in the back three.

The imposing Will Skelton earns his first Test start since June 2016 and will partner with Nick Frost who will be looking to continue his strong form at International level against Italy.

An all-new backrow sees Ned Hanigan at blindside flanker in his 27th Test, Reds star Fraser McReight at openside flanker and Pete Samu anchoring the scrum at number eight.

As forecast earlier by coach Dave Rennie, NSW skipper Jake Gordon returns to the number nine jersey and will connect with Noah Lolesio who will steer the team as flyhalf. Gordon making his international debut the last time the Wallabies played in Italy in 2018.

Queensland’s Hunter Paisami returns as the starting inside centre after injury to Lalakai Foketi in Paris and will partner Brumbies outside centre Len Ikitau in the midfield.

Ikitau’s club teammate Lachlan Lonergan will play his first Test in Europe as the finishing hooker, joined in the replacement front row by Tom Robertson who swaps to the finishing loosehead position and Taniela Tupou who was impressive against France.

Darcy Swain returns from a six-match suspension as the second row cover with Langi Gleeson in line for his second Test as the loose forward replacement.

Livewire Tate McDermott will be hoping to find space late in the game to showcase his running game as the finishing scrumhalf, while NSW Waratah and former Junior Wallaby Ben Donaldson has been named for his potential Test debut as the replacement playmaker. Jordan Petaia rounds out the matchday 23 in Florence.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: “Allan’s a great man and an exceptional leader. There was a massive roar in the team room when he was named captain this week and that shows the respect and standing he has within the group.”

“Mark and Ben have both had outstanding seasons for the Waratahs and Australia A and they’re both excited for what’s an extremely proud moment for them and their families.

“We always knew a gruelling five-Test end of year tour would require a full squad effort. We made nine changes after the win over Scotland and planned a similar number for Italy but injuries have increased that by a couple.

“Kieran Crowley is an excellent coach and Italy have made significant progress this year. They’re coming off a massive win over Samoa last weekend and beat Wales in the 6 Nations, so we’re under no illusions of the challenge that’s in front of us.”

Every Wallabies Test from the 2022 Spring Tour will be ad-free, live and on-demand with extended coverage on Stan Sport.

Wallabies team to play Italy at Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence on Saturday 13 November, 2:00pm CET/12:00am AEDT (Sunday)

  1. Matt Gibbon (4 Tests)
  2. Folau Fainga’a (35 Tests)
  3. Allan Alaalatoa (c) (61 Tests)
  4. Nick Frost (7 Tests)
  5. Will Skelton (22 Tests)
  6. Ned Hanigan (26 Tests)
  7. Fraser McReight (8 Tests)
  8. Pete Samu (30 Tests)
  9. Jake Gordon (17 Tests)
  10. Noah Lolesio (15 Tests)
  11. Tom Wright (20 Tests)
  12. Hunter Paisami (22 Tests)
  13. Len Ikitau (23 Tests)
  14. Mark Nawaqanitawase*
  15. Jock Campbell (2 Tests)
    Replacements
  16. Lachlan Lonergan (6 Tests)
  17. Tom Robertson (28 Tests)
  18. Taniela Tupou (45 Tests)
  19. Darcy Swain (16 Tests)
  20. Langi Gleeson (1 Test)
  21. Tate McDermott (19 Tests)
  22. Ben Donaldson*
  23. Jordan Petaia (22 Tests)
    *denotes uncapped

2022 Spring Tour Fixtures

Wallabies 16 defeated Scotland 15, Sunday 30 October at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh

Wallabies 29 defeated by France 30, Sunday 6 November at Stade de France, Paris

Wallabies v Italy, Sunday 13 November, 12:00am AEDT at Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence

Wallabies v Ireland, Sunday 20 November, 7:00am AEDT at Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Wallabies v Wales, Sunday 27 November, 2:15am AEDT at Principality Stadium, Cardiff

Content & Images from – Australia Rugby


6 Nations

‘It’s A Great Appointment’ – Farrell On Murphy’s Move To Ulster

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With Dan McFarland stepping down as Ulster head coach this week, it has been confirmed that Murphy will take over the role on an interim basis following the conclusion of the Under-20 Six Nations Championship.

The Ireland Under-20s are in title contention again thanks to two opening wins, with Murphy having overseen back-to-back U-20 Grand Slam successes and a World Rugby U-20 Championship final appearance in the last two seasons.

Farrell first worked alongside Murphy when they were defence coach and skills and kicking coach respectively, during Joe Schmidt’s coaching reign with Ireland.

The pair have kept up a strong connection with Murphy continuing for a short while as a specialist kicking resource for the senior squad, and the Under-20s often training with Farrell’s men during the Six Nations window.

“I think it’s a great appointment. I think Richie will do a fantastic job (at Ulster), his rugby knowledge is second to none,” commented Farrell.

“He is a very experienced guy that has been an assistant for quite some time and I know that he worked with us for a short period before we went to the Under-20s, but that was his next step to take that type of mantle on and do it his way.

He has certainly done a fantastic job. I mean, coaching the Under-20s is coaching in its purest form, it’s bloody difficult because of the swapping and changing the whole time each year.

“It shows exactly the quality that he’s got and his knowledge of the whole game. I think the players up at Ulster there will love him.

“His attitude is great but first and foremost I think they will respect his knowledge, definitely.”

McFarland was in charge of Ulster since 2018 and guided them to the PRO14 final two years later. They looked to be finding form again with a trio of wins over Racing 92, Connacht, and Leinster, coming into the New Year.

However, last Sunday’s poor 19-17 defeat at the Ospreys was their third loss in a row, leaving them eighth in the BKT United Rugby Championship, and came just a few weeks after failing to reach the last 16 of the Investec Champions Cup.

Assistant coach Dan Soper will take the reins for their next URC fixture at home to the Dragons on Saturday week, before Murphy comes on board for their two-match tour to South Africa where they will play the Hollywoodbets Sharks and the DHL Stormers.

The Bray man will have to quickly get up to the speed as the Ulstermen then travel to Montpellier in the EPCR Challenge Cup’s round of 16, just after Easter. Given the people involved, Farrell is confident they can turn things around at Kingspan Stadium.

“Look, it’s obvious that we want all the provinces playing at the top of their game. If that happens, it’s a special place to be but it doesn’t tend to happen that often, does it?

“One thing I know for sure is that Ulster have got a fantastic squad and good people up there. The lads that we have within our squad are exemplary to the province, as far as their attitudes are concerned whether they’re playing or not.”

A dislocated toe, suffered during that loss to the Ospreys, means Iain Henderson is unavailable for Ireland’s clash with Wales on Saturday. His Ulster colleague, Stuart McCloskey, is one of only two backs on the hosts’ bench as they opt to return to a six-two split.

New-look Wales, who lost their first two games to Scotland and England by a combined three points, come to Dublin with a squad that has accumulated 662 caps, compared to Ireland’s 1012.

119 of those caps are provided by George North alone, while 21-year-old Exeter Chiefs lock Dafydd Jenkins continues as captain, and Cardiff back rower Mackenzie Martin could make his debut off the bench.

Asked what he is expecting from Wales this weekend, Farrell replied: “Playing against Wales, you know it’s always going to be a scrap.

“You know that every single time Wales play against Ireland, it means probably a little bit more to them, I’ve been told (that) over the years.

“So we’re aware of that, and we also know as well that Wales historically have got better throughout the competition.

“We’re five weeks into it come the weekend, from when we first started training. We know that they’ll be better and hopefully we’ve used our time wisely as well.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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6 Nations

Wales team to face Ireland in Dublin named

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Senior men’s head coach Warren Gatland has named the Wales side to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin in the third round of the 2024 Guinness Six Nations on Saturday 24 February (KO 2.15pm live on ITV and S4C).

There is one change to the starting XV that played England at Twickenham on 10 February, with Sam Costelow returning for Wales at fly half.

Among the replacements back-row Mackenzie Martin is in line to win his first senior cap this weekend and would become the 1,200th Wales men’s international.

.

Tight-head prop Dillon Lewis would be making his first appearance of this Championship if called on from the bench.

Gatland said: “We are excited to go out to Dublin and test ourselves against one of the leading sides in world rugby. It’s a challenge we are relishing.

“We’ve made steps in the last couple of games and now it’s about building on that, learning from those experiences and taking that into this weekend.

“It’s about continuing to work hard, looking for accuracy in our performance across 80 minutes and also keeping our discipline.”

Wales senior men’s team to play Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin in the Guinness Six Nations, Saturday 24 February KO 2.15pm GMT. Live on ITV and S4C.
15. Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby – 2 caps)
14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 56 caps)
13. George North (Ospreys – 119 caps)
12. Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 34 caps)
11. Rio Dyer (Dragons – 16 caps)
10. Sam Costelow (Scarlets – 9 caps)
9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 55 caps)
1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 27 caps)
2. Elliot Dee (Dragons – 48 caps)
3. Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff Rugby – 4 caps)
4. Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs – 14 caps) Captain / Capten
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 53 caps)
6. Alex Mann (Cardiff Rugby – 2 caps)
7. Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers – 15 caps)
8. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons – 45 caps)

Replacements

16. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 40 caps)
17. Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Rugby – 8 caps)
18. Dillon Lewis (Harlequins – 54 caps)
19. Will Rowlands (Racing 92 – 30 caps)
20. Mackenzie Martin (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 19 caps)
22. Ioan Lloyd (Scarlets – 4 caps)
23. Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby – 8 caps)

Images & Content – Wales Rugby


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6 Nations

Jager and Ahern Join Ireland Squad Ahead Of Wales

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The Ireland squad re-assembled in Dublin on Sunday evening ahead of this weekend’s Guinness Men’s Six Nations Round 3 clash against Wales at Aviva Stadium (Kick-off 2.15pm).

Prop Oli Jager has joined the squad and Thomas Ahern has also linked up with Andy Farrell‘s side at the IRFU High Performance Centre this week.

Iain Henderson picked up a foot injury during Ulster’s URC game away to Ospreys on Sunday and there will be a further update later in the week.

The Ireland Match Day Squad to face Wales at Aviva Stadium will be named on Thursday at 2pm.

Ireland Squad – Wales Week: 

Backs (15):

Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht)
Harry Byrne (UCD/Leinster)
Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster)
Jack Crowley (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster)
Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster)
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster)
Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster)
Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
James Lowe (Leinster)
Stuart McCloskey (Bangor/Ulster)
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
Calvin Nash (Young Munster/Munster)
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster)
Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster)

Forwards (21):

Thomas Ahern (Shannon/Munster)*
Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster)
Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster)
Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Caelan Doris (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster)
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
Iain Henderson (Academy/Ulster)
Oli Jager (Munster)*
Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Jeremy Loughman (Garryowen/Munster)
Joe McCarthy (Dublin University/Leinster)
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster)(captain)
Tom O’Toole (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster)
James Ryan (UCD/Leinster)
Dan Sheehan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Tom Stewart (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Nick Timoney (Banbridge/Ulster)
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster)

*Denotes uncapped player

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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