November Tests: Changes abound for internationals

International
AFP
by AFP

The second weekend of November Tests kicks off on Saturday, with some blockbusters around Europe and the UK.

Who's in and who's out of the internationals this weekend? 

FRANCE vs SOUTH AFRICA

Handre Pollard will make his return to the Springboks' 23. Photo: Getty ImagesHandre Pollard will start at fly-half after South Africa coach Allister Coetzee made four changes to his side for Saturday's international Test against France in Paris.

Duane Vermeulen comes in at No.8 and Wilco Louw at tighthead prop in two forced switches due to injuries to Pieter-Steph du Toit and Coenie Oosthuizen.

Elton Jantjies drops to the bench after starting at outside half in last week's record 38-3 defeat to Ireland, as does centre Damian de Allende, with Francois Venter promoted to the starting XV for the 1945GMT kick-off.

Coetzee said Pollard's inclusion was more a case of rotation than of dropping Jantjies.

"Handre Pollard, his inclusion this week, I think it's the right time," said the coach.

"He's looking sharp in training. I'm pleased with Elton's development and his effort this year.

"He's started off 10 tests but it's time to give Handre Pollard an opportunity as well.

"It's great to have both your tens out there in northern hemisphere conditions being able to manage games up here."

Toulon back row Vermeulen was only called into the squad after prop Oosthuizen was diagnosed with knee ligament damage sustained in the opening minutes against Ireland that will require surgery.

France coach Guy Noves on Thursday said his players deserved a "second chance" after naming an unchanged XV for Saturday's Test.

he only change from last Saturday's 38-18 defeat to New Zealand is on the bench where uncapped Bordeaux-Begles prop Sebastien Taofifenua replaces Clermont's Raphael Chaume, who was injured on his debut last week.

"This team has a potential that we weren't able to see during their first Test," said Noves.

"We weren't going to throw to the dogs players some of whom were playing for the first time.

"I believe this team has the right to make amends in this second performance."

Having given five players a first taste of international action last week, Noves has only one uncapped player, Taofifenua, in his matchday 23 this time.

France takes on South Africa on Saturday November 18, kicking off at 9pm local, Sunday 7am AEDT.

TEAMS

France to face South Africa

1. Jefferson Poirot

2. Guilhem Guirado

3. Rabah Slimani

4. Sebastien Vahaamahina

5. Paul Gabrillagues

6. Judicael Cancoriet

7. Kevin Gourdon

8. Louis Picamoles

9. Antoine Dupont

10. Anthony Belleau

11. Yoann Huget

12. Mathieu Bastareaud

13. Geoffrey Doumayrou

14. Teddy Thomas

15. Nans Ducuing

Reserves

16. Clement Maynadier

17. Sebastien Taofifenua

18. Daniel Kotze

19. Paul Jedrasiak

20. Anthony Jelonch

21. Baptiste Serin

22. Francois Trinh-Duc

23. Damian Penaud

South Africa to face France 

1. Tendai Mtawarira

2. Malcolm Marx

3. Wilco Louw

4. Eben Etzebeth

5. Lodd de Jager

6. Francois Louw

7. Siya Kolisi

8. Duane Vermeulen

9. Ross Cronje

10. Handre Pollard

11. Courtnall Skosan

12. Francois Venter

13. Jesse Kriel

14. Dillyn Leyds

15. Andries Coetzee

Reserves

16.  Bongi Mbonambi

17. Steven Kitshoff

18. Trevor Nyakane

19. Franco Mostert

20. Dan du Preez

21. Rudy Paige

22. Elton Jantjies

23. Damian De Allende

SCOTLAND vs NEW ZEALAND

Stuart Hogg has a point to prove. Photo: Getty ImagesA fullback seeking redemption and a prop who knows the All Blacks best from a computer game have been named in Scotland's team for the Test at Murrayfield.

Coach Gregor Townsend made two injury-enforced changes to his forward pack for Saturday's clash from the side who beat Samoa 44-38 last week.

Both are in the pack, with Cornell du Preez replacing Ryan Wilson at No.8 and prop Zander Fagerson in for Willem Nel.

There are four new faces on the reserves bench, including loose forward Luke Hamilton and utility back Byron McGuigan, who are both uncapped.

Townsend has been forced to pick a youthful side all-round, with injury having robbed him of numerous top-flight players, most notably halfback/captain Greig Laidlaw and world-class lock Richie Gray.

The raw nature of the side is reflected by comments this week from 21-year-old tighthead Fagerson.

"You grow up watching the All Blacks - I remember playing Jonah Lomu 2011 on the Play Station, you'd give it to him and he'd hand off everyone and score," Fagerson said.

"I've played against the All Blacks under-20s a few times - it'd be a privilege and I'm looking forward to it."

Captain John Barclay, who made his debut against New Zealand at the 2007 World Cup, is the squad's oldest (31) and most experienced (64 caps) player.

Fullback Stuart Hogg and winger Tommy Seymour, who has shaken off a toe injury, both get a shot at the All Blacks after touring New Zealand with this year's British and Irish Lions but failing to win a Test berth.

Classy attacker Hogg, who scored his 17th Test try in 54 Tests against Samoa, was favoured to be fullback in the Lions series.

However, he was forced home prematurely after suffering a freakish facial injury when he ran into a team-mate's elbow against the Crusaders.

The 25-year-old is one of five Scottish players who started in the tense 24-16 loss to the All Blacks in Edinburgh three years ago, a result that continued the hosts' 30-Test winless record against the New Zealanders.

Scotland take on New Zealand on Saturday November 18, kicking off at 5:15pm local, Sunday 4:15am AEDT.

TEAMS

Scotland to face New Zealand 

1. Darryl Marfo

2. Stuart McInally

3. Zander Fagerson

4. Ben Toolis

5. Jonny Gray

6. John Barclay

7. Hamish Watson

8. Cornell du Preez

9. Ali Price

10. Finn Russell

11. Lee Jones

12. Alex Dunbar

13. Huw Jones

14. Tommy Seymour

15. Stuart Hogg

Reserves

16. George Turner

17. Jamie Bhatti

18. Simon Berghan

19. Grant Gilchrist

20. Luke Hamilton

21. Henry Pyrgos

22. Pete Horne

23. Byron McGuigan

New Zealand to face Scotland

1. Kane Hames (7)

2. Codie Taylor (26)

3. Nepo Laulala (11)

4. Luke Romano (30)

5. Samuel Whitelock (94)

6. Vaea Fifita (4)

7. Sam Cane (51)

8. Kieran Read - captain (108)

9. Aaron Smith (69)

10. Beauden Barrett (60)

11. Rieko Ioane (11)

12. Sonny Bill Williams (44)

13. Ryan Crotty (33)

14. Waisake Naholo (16)

15. Damian McKenzie (10)

Reserves

16. Nathan Harris (9)

17. Wyatt Crockett (69)

18. Ofa Tu'ungafasi (12)

19. Liam Squire (13)

20. Matt Todd (11)

21. TJ Perenara (40)

22. Lima Sopoaga (14)

23. Anton Lienert-Brown (20)

IRELAND vs FIJI

Munster's Chris Farrell will play at 13 for Ireland. Photo: AFPChris Farrell will win his first cap for Ireland in a new-look centre pairing after coach Joe Schmidt named a second-string starting line-up for Saturday's international against Fiji in Dublin.

The 24-year-old, who has recently joined Munster after playing club rugby in France, will play alongside Stuart McCloskey, who makes his second international appearance.

Flanker Rhys Ruddock captains a side showing 13 changes from the team who thrashed South Africa 38-3 in Dublin last Saturday in the first of three November internationals for the Irish, who also host Argentina on Nov. 25.

Dave Kearney returns on the left wing after two injury-hit seasons and 21-year-old prop Andrew Porter wins his second cap.

"It's the acid test for Andrew, undoubtedly,' said New Zealand-born Schmidt.

"He has thoroughly impressed us. He is a long term project for the here and now, suddenly.

"He needs to get comfortable in an uncomfortable environment.

"There is no better way to test people than to throw them into the arena."

Ireland hosts Fiji on Saturday November 18, kicking off at 5:30pm local, 4:30am AEDT.

Ireland to face Fiji

1. Jack McGrath

2. Rob Herring

3. Andrew Porter

4. Ultan Dillane

5. Devint Toner

6. Rhys Ruddock

7. Jordi Murphy

8. Jack Conan

9. Kieran Marmion

10. Joey Carbery

11. Dave Kearney

12. Stuart McCloskey

13. Chris Farrell

14. Darren Sweetnam

15. Andrew Conway

Reserves

16. James Tracy

17. Cian Healy

18. Tadhg Furlong

19. Kieran Treadwell

20. CJ Stander

21. Luke McGrath

22. Ian Keatley

23. Robbie Henshaw

Fiji to face Ireland

TBC

WALES vs GEORGIA

Dan Lydiate will captain Wales against Georgia. Photo: Getty ImagesDan Lydiate will lead a new-look Wales side against Georgia after coach Warren Gatland made 14 changes to his starting XV.

Liam Williams was the lone survivor from the run-on side beaten 29-21 by Australia in Cardiff last week, although he will now move to fullback from wing.

Lydiate, who will be captaining his country for the third time, was a member of a revamped back-row for what will be Wales's first international against 2019 World Cup pool opponents Georgia.

In the midfield Owen Watkin who made his debut last Saturday, partners Scott Williams with Rhys Webb alongside in form Bath No 10 Rhys Priestland at half-back.

In the pack Leon Brown, who made his Test debut against Australia, lines up alongside Nicky Smith and Kristian Dacey in the front row, with Cory Hill and Adam Beard the two locks.

Lydiate packs down in a back-row alongside Sam Cross at openside and Seb Davies at No 8.

Cross, a member of Great Britain's silver medal-winning sevens squad at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will be making a first Wales start in just his fourth game of professional 15-a-side rugby union.

He featured as a substitute against Australia as did Watkin, Hill, Brown and Dacey.

Rhys Webb was fuming at the new 60-Test rule. Photo: Getty ImagesWebb has recovered from a knee injury while Scott Williams replaces the sidelined Jonathan Davies at outside centre.

With Tests against world champions New Zealand and South Africa still to come before Wales complete their end-of-year campaign, Gatland felt this was the right time to make wholesale changes against a Georgia side who, although a second-tier rugby nation, are renowned for their strength in the scrum.

"We felt this week was really important to give a number of the squad as much exposure as possible to Test match rugby," said Gatland after unveiling his team on Thursday.

"It is an exciting opportunity for some of the younger guys to take the field and show us what they are capable of," the New Zealander added.

Wales's team does feature several seasoned Test performers in wing Alex Cuthbert and Scott Williams while the likes of No 8 Taulupe Faletau and fly-half Dan Biggar are on the bench.

"We have got a fair amount of experience to throw into the mix too, both with players who have got  a decent number of cap numbers but also players who have been around this environment for a good while too," said Gatland.

Georgia will arrive in Cardiff on the back of thumping Canada 54-22 in Tbilisi last weekend British and Irish Lions coach Gatland added: "Georgia are coming to Cardiff on the back of a good victory last weekend and they will be looking to show what they can do on this stage and we have to be ready for that."

Wales takes on Georgia on Saturday November 18, kicking off at 2;30pm local, Sunday 1:30am AEDT.

TEAMS

Wales team to face Georgia 

1. Nicky Smith

2. Kristian Dacey

3. Leon Brown

4. Adam Beard

5. Cory Hill

6. Dan Lydiate

7. Sam Cross

8. Seb Davies

9. Rhys Webb

10. Rhys Priestland

11. Hallan Amos

12. Owen Watkin

13. Scott Williams

14. Alex Cuthbert

15. Liam Williams

Reserves

16. Elliot Dee

17. Wyn Jones

18. Tomas Francis

19. Josh Navidi

20. Taulupe Faletau

21. Aled Davies

22. Dan Biggar

23. Owen Williams

Georgia to face Wales 

1. Mikhail Nariashvili

2. Jaba Bregvadze

3. Levan Chilachava

4. Kote Mikautadze

5. Giorgi Nemsadze

6. Lasha Lomidze

7. Vito Kolelishvili

8. Beka Bitsadze

9. Vasil Lobzhanidze

10. Lasha Khmaladze

11. Mirian Modebadze

12. Merab Sharikadze

13. Davit Katcharava

14. Giorgi Koshadze

15. Soso Matiashvili

Reserves

16. Shalva Mamukashvili

17. Kakha Asieshvili

18. Soso Bekoshvili

19. Giorgi Chkhaidze

20. Giorgi Tkhilaishvili

21. Giorgi Begadze

22. Revaz Jintchvelashvili

23. Merab Kvirikashvili

ITALY vs ARGENTINA

Nicolas Sanchez led the way for the Pumas. Photo: Getty ImagesNicolas Sanchez will return at five-eighth for Argentina in place of veteran Juan Martin Hernandez in one of four changes to the Pumas' starting line-up to face Italy in Florence.

Sanchez came off the bench to score the only Argentine try last Saturday at Twickenham as the South Americans started their three-match European tour with a 21-8 loss to England.

Matias Orlando is back at centre in place of Matias Moroni while 24-year-old winger Sebastian Cancelliere is given a start in his fourth international.

Juan Manuel Leguizamon takes Tomas Lezana's place at number eight after Lezana returned home for family reasons.

Saturday's test marks a 50th international in charge for coach Daniel Hourcade, who took over the team four years ago.

"Many things have changed. Over time, we have managed to impose our idea of a much more offensive style, to risk much more," Hourcade told the Argentine rugby union's website.

"Some things have improved and others still demand that we have to continue working. We are in the middle of a project aimed at the 2019 World Cup. That was always the main objective."

"We aim to maintain the good work done against England and make some changes to our style of play, particularly making the attack more dynamic."

Italy host Argentina on Saturday November 18 at 2pm local, Sunday midnight AEDT.

TEAMS

Italy to face Argentina

1. Andrea Lovotti

2. Luca Bigi

3. Simone Ferrari

4. Marco Fuser

5. Dean Budd

6. Franceso Minto

7. Abraham Steyn

8. Sergio Parisse

9. Marcello Violi

10. Carlo Canna

11. Mattia Bellini

12. Tommaso Castello

13. Tommaso Boni

14. Leonardo Sarto

15. Jayden Hayward

Reserves

16. Leonardo Ghiraldini

17. Federico Zani

18. Dario Chistolini

19. Federico Ruzza

20. Giovanni Licata

21. Tito Tebaldi

22. Ian McKinley

23. Matteo Minozzi

Argentina to face Italy

1. Santiago Garcia Botta

2. Agustin Creevy

3. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro

4. Matias Alemanno

5. Tomas Lavanini

6. Pablo Matera

7. Marcos Kremer

8. Juan Manuel Leguizamon

9. Martin Landajo

10. Nicolas Sanchez

11. Emiliano Boffelli

12. Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias

13. Matias Orlando

14. Sebastian Cancelliere

15. Joaquin Tuculet

Reserves

16. Julian Montoya

17. Lucas Noguera

18. Enrique Pieretto

19. Guido Petti

20. Benjamin Macome

21. Gonzalo Bertranou

22. Juan Martin Hernandez

23. Matias Moroni.