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Cheika Plans to Continue Shuffling Pack

Michael Cheika made five changes to his side for this weekend’s test against Argentina and admits that nobody’s place in the team is set in stone

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(Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Michael Cheika has admitted that he will continue to allow players opportunities ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan this September.

Cheika’s Wallabies only have four more games before the tournament, where they open up against a high-flying Fijian side however the head coach is willing to continue switching things up to find the perfect combination.

“We want to have a look around … we’ve got a bit of a plan we want to follow on selections and what the strategy is (before the World Cup). It’s only logical now that we would use this opportunity to give everyone a chance to play footy. When it all boils down to it, the view is to go out and perform on Saturday night and win the Test match,” he said.

Ahead of the Wallabies clash with Argentina this Saturday Cheika has made five changes to the side that lost 37-15 to South Africa last weekend.

There are returns for the likes Kurtley Beale, Marika Koroibete and Will Genia, while Christian Lealiifano makes his first start for the men in gold for three years, and James O’Connor is set to make his first international appearance for six years from the bench.

Cheika believes that his side need to be more clinical when attacking and will be hoping that his changes to the back-line will be able to turn dominance into points on Saturday.

“Making opportunities isn’t good enough, taking them is what it’s about. We’ve just got to understand the momentum of the game, when we’ve got the flow and it’s happening to have a real go at it … show our hand. But when momentum might be against us, maybe that’s the bit we need to understand to be better at. That’s probably the thing we need to work on the most … and translate those opportunities into points,” he added.

The Wallabies are in desperate need of a morale boosting win heading into the World Cup and will be hoping to come out on top as they host a Pumas side currently on a six-game losing streak.

Autumn Nations Cup

Scotland confirm Autumn Nations Squad

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Scotland has called up its full complement of 2021 British & Irish Lions as Head Coach Gregor Townsend confirms his 42-man squad for the Autumn Nations Series.

The extended group welcomes back Captain Stuart Hogg, half-back pairing Ali Price and Finn Russell, centre Chris Harris, winger Duhan van de Merwe, flanker Hamish Watson as well as props Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland following their involvement in the South African series.

Support for Scotland continues to build ahead of the Autumn Nations Series with the confirmation today that the match against Australia on Sunday 7 November is sold out.

A total of 11 new players are added to the squad ahead of the opening game against Tonga on 30 October from the training group which came together earlier this week at the Oriam High Performance Centre.

Alongside the B&I Lions contingent centres Matt Scott, Huw Jones and fly-half Adam Hastings retain their places alongside flanker Sam Skinner from Scotland’s summer tour squad, which was hampered by Covid cancellations.

Also progressing to the Autumn Series squad are Edinburgh backs Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn, Damien Hoyland and Mark Bennett. They are joined by fellow capital teammates Grant Gilchrist, Stuart McInally, Jamie Ritchie and Nick Haining.

Scotland’s west-based professional side Glasgow Warriors provide experience also in the form of hookers Fraser Brown and George Turner, lock Rob Harley and back-row Matt Fagerson. Props Jamie Bhatti, Murray McCallum and Oli Kebble are also selected.

Glasgow Warriors centre Sam Johnson joins scrum-half George Horne and wing Kyle Steyn who all also missed out on possible game time in the summer series and will compete again for places this autumn.

Head Coach Townsend has selected 12 uncapped players to be part of the tournament squad following their initial involvement in the training group this week.

In the pack Ewan Ashman, Josh Bayliss, Rory Darge, Dylan Richardson, Luke Crosbie, Jamie Hodgson, Marshall Sykes and Pierre Schoeman will all be keen to feature in the four-match series, which begins against Tonga and sees Scotland play Australia, South Africa and Japan on consecutive weekends.

Glasgow Warriors provide all the uncapped backs in Rufus McLean, Jamie Dobie, Ross Thompson and Sione Tuipulotu.

It’s exciting to bring together a blend of highly experienced and uncapped players for our first week of the Autumn Nations Series campaign.

Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend

“There have been some notable performances from both our home-based players and those at clubs outside of Scotland, which has enabled us as coaches to select a group which are playing well and will be motivated across the four games.

“We also feel that this the right time to bring in some younger players given their early season form. They have created opportunities for themselves to represent their country and we believe that they will thrive in the Test match environment.

“We face four tough matches in four weeks and Tonga, Australia, South Africa and Japan each present a different challenge and an opportunity to perform in front of our people at BT Murrayfield. It’s great to hear that we will now play Australia in front of a capacity crowd at BT Murrayfield, and it means a huge amount to the players to have this level of support.”

Autumn Nations Series Squad

Forwards:
Ewan Ashman – Sale Sharks – uncapped
Josh Bayliss – Bath Rugby – uncapped
Jamie Bhatti – Glasgow Warriors – 18 caps
Fraser Brown – Glasgow Warriors – 54 caps
Luke Crosbie – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Rory Darge – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Matt Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 13 caps
Zander Fagerson – Glasgow Warriors – 38 caps
Grant Gilchrist – Edinburgh Rugby – 45 caps
Nick Haining – Edinburgh Rugby – 8 caps
Rob Harley – Glasgow Warriors – 22 caps
Jamie Hodgson – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Oli Kebble – Glasgow Warriors – 8 caps
Murray McCallum – Glasgow Warriors – 3 caps
Stuart McInally – Edinburgh Rugby – 40 caps
Dylan Richardson – Cell C Sharks – uncapped
Jamie Ritchie – Edinburgh Rugby – 27 caps
Sam Skinner – Exeter Chiefs – 12 caps
Pierre Schoeman – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
Rory Sutherland – Worcester Warriors – 16 caps
Marshall Sykes – Edinburgh Rugby – uncapped
George Turner – Glasgow Warriors – 17 caps
Hamish Watson – Edinburgh Rugby – 41 caps


Backs:
Mark Bennett – Edinburgh Rugby – 22 caps
Darcy Graham – Edinburgh Rugby – 19 caps
Jamie Dobie – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Chris Harris – Gloucester Rugby – 28 caps
Adam Hastings – Gloucester Rugby – 23 caps
Stuart Hogg – Exeter Chiefs – 85 caps
George Horne – Glasgow Warriors – 14 caps
Damien Hoyland – Edinburgh Rugby – 4 caps
Sam Johnson – Glasgow Warriors – 18 caps
Huw Jones – Harlequins – 31 caps
Blair Kinghorn – Edinburgh Rugby – 25 caps
Duhan van de Merwe – Worcester Warriors – 10 caps
Rufus McLean – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Ali Price – Glasgow Warriors – 42 caps
Finn Russell – Racing 92 – 55 caps
Matt Scott – Leicester Tigers – 39 caps
Kyle Steyn – Glasgow Warriors – 1 cap
Ross Thompson – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped
Sione Tuipulotu – Glasgow Warriors – uncapped

Scotland’s matches against South Africa and Australia are already sold out, a full house at BT Murrayfield is also expected for Japan.

Tonga will be the exciting opponents on Saturday 30 October when Scotland take the field for the first test match at BT Murrayfield with a live crowd since March 2020.

Plans are underway to host a massive Halloween party with fans encouraged to wear fancy dress and with ‘kids for £1’ tickets available it gives a great opportunity for families to see their national team in action, secure your tickets HERE.

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Autumn Nations Cup

Manu Samoa announces Management to lead clash against the Barbarians for the Killik Cup

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Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan - Simon Smith - Barbarians

Samoa’s rugby clash against the Barbarians for the Killik Cup at Twickenham on November 27, will be from a selected team to take the field in London, drawn from profile coaches and Samoan players based mainly in Europe, but also Australia, New Zealand, Japan and USA.

The Barbarian’s game is the only match to be played from the recently cancelled tour of Europe due to Covid-19 implications. The trip north proved too difficult for some management and squad of players from the southern hemisphere, with health and safety of everyone being prioritized especially upon returning home.

An overseas based Coaching and Management team has been selected, and Head Coach, Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua is confident with the selected coaching group.

“I am very pleased to be able to call the services of coaches that are plying their trade overseas and have an intimate knowledge of the Manu Samoa environment.” Said Vaovasamanaia.

“The challenges that the Pandemic has given us, have also created opportunity for me to grow our people in these key roles and to make sure that we are able to get our Manu Samoa on the field, as well as launch our new partnership with apparel sponsor Castore.” He added.

“Given the nature of the Barbarians, this should prove to be a highly entertaining game and a fantastic opportunity to round off the Autumn Internationals in style.”

The selected Coaching team members are made up of former Manu Samoa stars:
The Co-Coaches are Lemalu Tusiata Pisi, currently coaching at the Toyota Shokki in Japan, and Census Johnston with Racing 92 in France. The Assistant Coaches are Kane Thompson who coaches at NOLA Gold – USA (MLR), and Terry Fanolua who previously coached at Gloucester RFC. The Team Manager is Niuafolau Faautu Talapusi, who has extensive experience with Lakapi Samoa and currently residing in London.

The Manu Samoa players selected for the match will soon be announced, with the reveal of its new apparel sponsor, as game tickets are selling fast with close to 45,000 already sold.

Lakapi Samoa acknowledges the Barbarian Football Club and all its partners in making this very important match possible and their support is invaluable to the Union.

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Autumn Nations Cup

England announce 34 man squad

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Eddie Jones has named a 34-player England squad as they prepare for the Autumn Nations Series.

The squad will travel to Jersey on Monday 25 October for a five-day training camp before returning to England ahead of their trio of home fixtures against Tonga, Australia and South Africa.

Jones has included four uncapped players.  Nic Dolly and Tommy Freeman receive their first call-ups, along with Mark Atkinson and Raffi Quirke who joined up with the squad last month for a short training camp.

Eight players who made their debuts in England’s summer series have also been selected (Jamie Blamire, Callum Chick, Trevor Davison, Alex Dombrandt, Adam Radwan, Harry Randall, Marcus Smith and Freddie Steward).

Elsewhere, Owen Farrell will be England captain and Maro Itoje is in line to make his 50th cap during the Autumn Nations Series.

Jones said: “This is a young but very good, talented squad who have all earned their places. It is one of the most competitive squads I have ever picked.

“There are a number of disappointed players who haven’t been selected, but they know what they need to do and no door is closed to any player.

“We’re looking forward to three tough Test matches. Tonga always play a strong, physical game and Australia and South Africa have had extended periods together and will be a good challenge for us.

“Our aim each week will be to get better and better as we work towards the Rugby World Cup in 2023.”

England will first face Tonga on Saturday 6 November (3.15pm KO).  They will then host Australia on Saturday 13 November (5.30pm KO) and in their final game, take on world champions South Africa on Saturday 20 November (3.15pm KO).

All matches will be live on Amazon Prime Video Sport and TalkSPORT.

FULL SQUAD

FORWARDS
Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons, 2 caps)
Callum Chick (Newcastle Falcons, 2 caps)
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 31 caps)
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 33 caps)
Trevor Davison (Newcastle Falcons, 1 cap)
Nic Dolly (Leicester Tigers, uncapped)
Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 1 cap)
Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 23 caps)
Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 30 caps)
Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, 9 caps)
Maro Itoje (Saracens, 48 caps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 87 caps)
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 10 caps)
Joe Marler (Harlequins, 72 caps)
George Martin (Leicester Tigers, 1 cap)
Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 7 caps)
Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 44 caps)
Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 12 caps)
Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 24 caps) 

BACKS
Mark Atkinson (Gloucester Rugby, uncapped)
Owen Farrell (Saracens, 93 caps)
Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 4 caps)
Max Malins (Saracens, 8 caps)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 66 caps)
Raffi Quirke (Sale Sharks, uncapped)
Adam Radwan (Newcastle Falcons, 1 cap)
Harry Randall (Bristol Bears, 2 caps)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 40 caps)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 2 caps)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 2 caps)
Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 43 caps)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 51 caps)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 109 caps)

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