Ireland v Italy
All the talk in Ireland this week has been of the Johnny Sexton wonder goal and rightfully so, but has it hidden Ireland’s inability to create chances. With nigh-on 70% possession you would expect at least one clean break. Ireland will be looking to remedy this and perhaps the inclusion of Jordan Larmour will help with this. There was also some very questionable defence in the leadup to Teddy Tomas’ try. This sort of thing will likely boil Joe Schmidt’s blood.
Italy are coming off a resounding loss to the English, but it was only resounding on the scoreboard. If Italy can bring the endeavour and skill to this match that they brought to the England match we are going to be in for a real treat. They have a very real chance of testing this Irish defence that was not really tested against the French. The biggest news coming out of Italy, for us at least is the exclusion of Andrea Lovotti for the first time in Conor O’Shea’s reign (in a Six Nations fixture). Lovotti has been relegated to the bench.
England v Wales
Warren Gatland named his team early and for the fifth time since the 2015 Rugby World Cup, he named an unchanged starting XV for a Six Nations match. There had been a lot of chat about a number of positions, particularly the makeup of the back-three, but he’s giving them another crack. The one change to the matchday 23 is George North coming in for Owen Watkin who was statistically anonymous against Scotland.
England have made four changes to the matchday 23. The pack is unchanged but there is an enforced change at 9 with Youngs out for the Six Nations. This has meant a callup for Richard Wigglesworth; it should be noted that this is the first time he has featured in an Eddie Jones Six Nations 23. Care moves to the starting position. Te’o and Joseph swapping numbers are the other two game-on-game changes. Although for the purist that is probably just one change.
Scotland v France
At the time of shooting the French have not named their team, however, it appears that Jalibert, Dupont, and Gourdon are unavailable. Gourdon, in particular, is going to be a massive loss as he was incredible against a ferocious Irish team.
Scotland have made a remarkable 13 game-on-gme changes. The biggest news in this space has to be the inclusion of former captain Greig Laidlaw in the starting XV and the dropping out of the squard of Cornell du Preez. du Preez had a weak game against the Welsh and it is no real surprise that he has been exluded.
? Après les forfaits de @Matthieuu10, @a_dupont9 et @kevingourde on vous rappelle la composition du groupe France pour préparer le match contre l'Écosse. ??????? #soutiensleXV #ECOFRA #PrêtsAuCombat #XVdeFrance pic.twitter.com/ObD0R4RH8K
— FF Rugby (@FFRugby) February 5, 2018
From The Shed
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