Autumn Internationals: Read ruled out, England ring changes

by AFP

It's the final weekend of internationals inside the November window.

Who will be facing off this weekend?

Wales vs New Zealand

Wales recalled their frontline forwards and kept faith with playmaker Owen Williams at inside centre for the rugby Test against New Zealand on Saturday.

Welsh hopes of a first victory over the All Blacks since 1953 have been hit by injuries to fullback Liam Williams and centre Jonathan Davies during games against Georgia and Australia this month. Star winger George North was already out injured.

Wales coach Warren Gatland selected the pack that fronted up well against Australia in a 29-21 loss on November 8 and was rested completely for the 13-6 win over Georgia last weekend.

In the backs, Owen Williams partners Scott Williams, who wins his 50th cap, in midfield as Gatland looks for a more expansive game out wide. Hard-running veteran center Jamie Roberts is among the reserves.

Winger Hallam Amos was the replacement for Liam Williams and Rhys Webb was preferred to Gareth Davies at scrumhalf. Amos, Scott Williams and Webb were the only survivors from the team that started against Georgia.

Wales have lost 29 straight Tests against the All Blacks.

Kieran Read says the All Blacks need to be clinical over the entire 80 on Saturday. Photo: Getty ImagesCaptain Kieran Read will miss the All Blacks' final match of the season, a back injury ruling the 108-times capped forward out.

Read's place will be taken by Luke Whitelock, with his brother Sam skippering the side from lock ahead of normal vice-captain Beauden Barrett.

There is one other injury-enforced change to the matchday 23 which beat Scotland 22-17 last weekend, Patrick Tuipulotu coming in for Luke Romano in the second row.

Liam Squire will start at blindside flanker, and lock Scott Barrett comes onto the bench.

"Whilst it's disappointing to not have 'Reado' available, it's a great opportunity to further grow the leadership of the team and, in this case, Sam Whitelock gets the opportunity to captain the side," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said.

"On behalf of the team, we'd like to congratulate him on this special honour.

"With his brother Luke captaining the All Blacks against the French XV, it will create a unique, All Blacks family history, and one which their family can be proud of."

Rieko Ioane, said Hansen, had made a miraculous recovery from a shoulder injury to be included on the wing, Waisake Naholo and Damian McKenzie packing out the back three.

Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty are in midfield outside Barrett and Aaron Smith at half-back.

Wales hosts New Zealand on Saturday November 25, kicking off at 5:15pm local, Sunday 4:15am AEDT.


Wales to face New Zealand

1. Rob Evans

2. Ken Owens

3. Tomas Francis

4. Jake Ball

5. Alun Wyn Jones

6. Aaron Shingler

7. Josh Navidi

8. Taulupe Faletau

9. Rhys Webb

10. Dan Biggar

11. Steff Evans

12. Owen Williams

13. Scott Williams

14. Hallam Amos

15. Leigh Halfpenny


16. Kristian Dacey

17. Wyn Jones

18. Leon Brown

19. Cory Hill

20. Justin Tipuric

21. Gareth Davies

22. Rhys Priestland

23. Jamie Roberts.

New Zealand to face Wales

1. Kane Hames (8)

2. Codie Taylor (28)

3. Nepo Laulala (12)

4. Patrick Tuipulotu (15)

5. Samuel Whitelock (95) - captain

6. Liam Squire (14)

7. Sam Cane (52)

8. Luke Whitelock (1)

9. Aaron Smith (70)

10. Beauden Barrett (61)

11. Rieko Ioane (12)

12. Sonny Bill Williams (45)

13. Ryan Crotty (34)

14. Waisake Naholo (17)

15. Damian McKenzie (11)


16. Nathan Harris (10)

17. Wyatt Crockett (70)

18. Ofa Tu'ungafasi (13)

19. Scott Barrett (13)

20. Matt Todd (12)

21. TJ Perenara (41)

22. Lima Sopoaga (15)

23. Anton Lienert-Brown (21)


Pieter Steph Du Toit will return for Springboks. Photo: Getty ImagesPieter Steph du Toit returns from concussion to the South Africa starting XV as Bongi Mbonambi makes his first start for the Springboks after coach Allister Coetzee made two changes for his team to face Italy on Saturday.

Flanker Du Toit was forced to sit out last week's 18-17 victory over France in Paris after suffering concussion in the record 38-3 humbling by Ireland a week earlier.

Line-out specialist Du Toit comes back into the team in place of Siya Kolisi, who is unavailable due to the birth of his second child, South Africa said in a press release.

Mbonambi makes his first start after 12 caps off the bench in place of Malcolm Marx, who has a shoulder injury.

"We decided not to risk Malcolm, which means Bongi will get a well-deserved first start in the No.2 jersey," said Coetzee.

"Bongi has worked hard and I have no doubt he will grab this opportunity with both hands."

Chiliboy Ralepelle replaces Mbonambi on the bench with uncapped back Warrick Gelant preferred to Damian de Allende amongst the replacements.

"Warrick is in good form and his work-rate during training has been impressive," added Coetzee.

"I know he will add value and I am very excited for the possibility of seeing him in action."

Italy takes on South Africa on Saturday November 25, kicking off at 2pm local, Sunday 1am AEDT.


Italy to face South Africa

1. Andrea Lovotti

2. Luca Bigi

3. Simone Ferrari

4. Marco Fuser

5. Dean Budd

6. Giovanni Licata

7. Abraham Steyn

8. Sergio Parisse

9. Marcello Violi

10. Carlo Canna

11. Mattia Bellini

12. Tommaso Castello

13. Tommaso Boni

14. Angelo Esposito

15. Jayden Hayward


16.   Leonardo Ghiraldini

17. Federico Zani

18. Tiziano Pasquali

19. Francesco Minto

20.  Renato Giammarioli

21.  Edoardo Gori

22. Ian McKinley

23. Matteo Minozzi

South Africa to face Italy

1. Tendai Mtawarira

2. Bongi Mbonambi

3. Wilco Louw

4. Eben Etzebeth

5. Lood de Jager

6. Francois Louw

7. Pieter-Steph du Toit

8. Duane Vermuelen

9. Ross Cronje

10. Handre Pollard

11. Courtnall Skosan

12. Francois Venter

13. Jesse Kriel

14. Dillyn Leyds

15. Andries Coetzee


16. Chiliboy Ralepelle

17. Steven Kitshoff

18. Trevor Nyakane

19. Franco Mostert

20. Dan du Preez

21. Rudy Paige

22.  Elton Jantjies

23. Warrick Gelant


Robbie Henshaw has been ruled out of Ireland's Test against Argentina. Photo: Getty ImagesAn injury to Robbie Henshaw has obliged Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt to select an inexperienced centre pairing for Saturday's Test against Argentina at Lansdowne Road.

Bundee Aki and Chris Farrell, boasting just two caps between them, will line-up as the Irish seek to make it three wins from three November Tests after Henshaw suffered a suspected hamstring injury this week.

Schmidt gives Leinster wing Adam Byrne his Test debut, after a breakthrough season last year ending a nightmare run of injuries which had seen him break a leg twice, against a Pumas side that destroyed Irish World Cup hopes in the 2015 quarter-finals.  

Schmidt told Thursday's press conference: "Robbie Henshaw has a slight hamstring injury and potentially could have been involved but has a busy period coming up so we decided to not risk him.

"Chris (Farrell) acquitted himself pretty well last weekend against Fiji and we will see how he measures up against Pumas."

urning to Byrne he commented: "Byrne gave us confidence with his work in training camp to include him.

"He has worked really hard picking things up all the time and with a bit of experience around him in the backs really hoping he gets a good work out for him in his first time in Irish jersey."

As expected Schmidt -- who gave 23-year-old Byrne his debut when he was head coach at Leinster -- has reverted to largely the starting XV that romped to a record 38-3 victory over South Africa a fortnight ago -- having fielded an inexperienced side in the 23-20 win over Fiji last Saturday.

Wing Andrew Conway and lock Devin Toner who are the only two to have started the two previous Tests are on the replacements bench allowing Byrne to get his blooding and 21-year-old Leinster team-mate James Ryan to get a first Test start.

Five of the starting XV who were beaten 43-20 by the Argentinians in 2015 remain including fullback Rob Kearney, who wins his 78th cap.

Ireland's British and Irish Lions half-back partnership of scrum-half Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton -- the latter was injured and missed the quarter-final defeat -- are also reunited after being rested for the Fiji game.

The Irish will start as warm favourites with the Pumas having tasted victory just twice this year, their win over Six Nations whipping boys Italy last Saturday ending a seven match losing run.

Pumas head coach Daniel Hourcade made three changes to that starting line-up chief of which was dropping veteran No8 Juan Manuel Leguizamon to thebench and bringing in Tomas Lezana to replace him.  

Ireland takes on Argentina on Saturday November 25, kicking off at 5:30pm local. Sunday 4:30am AEDT.


Ireland to face Argentina

1. Cian Healy

2. Rory Best

3. Tadhg Furlong

4. James Ryan

5. Iain Henderson

6. Peter O'Mahony

7. Sean O'Brien

8. CJ Stander

9. Conor Murray

10. Johnny Sexton

11. Jacob Stockdale

12. Bundee Aki

13. Chris Farrell

14. Adam Byrne

15. Rob Kearney


16. James Tracy

17. Dave Kilcoyne

18. John Ryan

19. Devin Toner

20. Rhys Ruddock

21. Luke McGrath

22. Ian Keatley

23.Andrew Conway

Argentina to face Ireland

1. Santiago Garcia Botta

2. Agustin Creevy

3. Nahuel Tetaz Chapparo

4. Matias Alemanno

5. Tomas Lavanini

6.   Pablo Matera

7. Marcos Kremer

8. Tomas Lezana

9. Martin Landajo

10. Nicolas Sanchez

11. Emiliano Boffelli

12. Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias

13. Matia Moroni

14. Ramiro Moyano

15. Joaquin Tuculet


16. Julian Montoya

17.  Lucas Noguera

18. Enrique Pierretto

19. Guido Petti

20. Juan Manuel Leguizamon

21. Gonzalo Bertranou

22. Jeronimo de la Fuente

23.  Sebastian Cancelliere

England vs Samoa

Jamie George will start for England on Saturday. Photo: Getty ImagesHooker Jamie George will finally make his first start for England after 19 appearances off the bench as coach Eddie Jones on Thursday named a side featuring nine changes to play Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday.

George was first-choice hooker for the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand this year but for the last two years has had to sit behind Dylan Hartley for England.

The captain is on the bench this week, while several other key players have been left out of the squad.

Jones was always expected to experiment for Saturday's match, which should be a straightforward one against a Samoa team struggling for any sort of form.

Scrumhalf Danny Care, who set up two tries and scored a third in a superb late cameo in last week's record win over Australia, gets a rare start, while Alex Lozowski and Henry Slade will form an exciting new centre partnership.

Sam Simmonds will make his first start at number 8 in the absence of the injured Nathan Hughes, with Charlie Ewels in the second row and Mike Brown returning at fullback.

With Owen Farrell again rested, flyhalf George Ford and Chris Robshaw, switched to openside flanker, have been named co-captains as England expect to complete a hat-trick of wins from their November tests.

George Ford is backing England to attack. Photo: Getty Images"This week it is an opportunity for some squad members who haven't been playing to put their best foot forward," Jones said.

"We want to follow up last week's performance against Australia and play better again this week but we are expecting Samoa to be immensely physical and committed."

There is never any doubt about that, but the islanders have shown precious little else over the last few years during a dire run.

Last week they were beaten by Romania to extend their losing streak to eight matches, while they have lost all seven of their previous games against England, the most recent being a 28-9 defeat three years ago.

Samoa was changed by only three from the side which lost its tour opener to Scotland 44-38 at Murrayfield.

Rey Lee-Lo, who played inside centre against Scotland and in the 17-13 loss to Romania last weekend, has been dropped to the reserves for Bristol's Alapati Leiua. Dwayne Polataivao has held on as starting scrumhalf from the Romania game.

England hosts Samoa on Saturday November 25, kicking off at 3pm local, Sunday 2am AEDT.


England to face Samoa

1. Ellis Genge

2. Jamie George

3. Dan Cole

4.Joe Launchbury

5. Charlie Ewels

6. Maro Itoje

7. Chris Robshaw

8. Sam Simmonds

9. Danny Care

10. George Ford

11. Elliot Daly

12. Alex Lozowski

13. Henry Slade

14. Jonny May

15. Mike Brown


16. Dylan Hartley

17.  Joe Marler

18. Harry Williams

19. Nick Isiekwe

20. Courtney Lawes

21. Ben Youngs

22. Piers Francis

23. Semesa Rokoduguni.

Samoa to face England

1. Jordan Lay

2. Motu Matu'u

3. Donald Brighouse

4. Josh Tyrell

5. Chris Vui

6. Piula Fa'asalele

7. TJ Ioane

8. Jack Lam

9. Dwayne Polataivao

10. Tim Nanai-Williams

11. David Lemi

12. Alapati Leiua

13. Kieron Fonotia

14. Paul Perez

15. Ah See Tuala


16. Manu Leiataua

17. James Lay

18.  Hisa Sasagi

19. Fa'atiga Lemalu

20. Ofisa Treviranus

21. Melani Matavao

22. Rey Lee-Lo

23. JJ Taulagi


France coach Guy Noves has brought in reinforcements. Photo: Getty ImagesFrance coach Guy Noves has changed six of his seven backs for Saturday's international Test match against Japan.

Noves announced eight changes in total to his starting line-up announced on Thursday from last week's 18-17 defeat to South Africa.

"I'm holding to what I said: I wanted over these three or four matches to see as many players as possible and to give them sufficient game time to assess them," said Noves, referring to France's three autumn Tests (against new Zealand, South Africa and Japan) and the second string match against New Zealand in Lyon 10 days ago.

"Had we won by a point (against South Africa), that wouldn't have changed the fact that I wanted to see all these players.

"Some of these players had a very constructive attitude during the Tuesday match."

Of the backs, only wing Teddy Thomas retains his place while Noves is handing debuts to flanker Sekou Macalou and wing Gabriel Lacroix, the two star performers in the French XV that ran a second string All Blacks close in Lyon 10 days ago.

In the pack, lock Romain Taofifenua, whose brother and prop Sebastien retains his place on the bench, is the only other new face.

Having stuck to the same starting XV for successive defeats against New Zealand and South Africa over the last two weeks, Noves has rung the changes this time.

France takes on Japan on Saturday November 25, kicking off at 9pm local, Sunday 7am AEDT.


France to face Japan

1. Jefferson Poirot

2. Guilhem Guirado

3. Rabah Slimani

4. Romain Taofifenua

5. Sebastien Vahaamahina

6. Judicael Cancoriet

7. Sekou Macalou

8. Louis Picamoles

9. Baptiste Serin

10. Francois Trinh-Duc

11. Gabriel Lacroix

12. Henry Chavancy

13. Damian Penaud

14. Teddy Thomas

15. Scott Spedding


16. Camille Chat

17. Sebastien Taofifenua

18. Daniel Kotze

19. Paul Jedrasiak

20. Fabien Sanconnie

21. Antoine Dupont

22. Mathieu Bastareaud

23. Hugo Bonneval

Japan to face France

1. Keita Inagaki

2. Shota Horie

3. Jiwon Koo

4. Wimpie van der Walt

5. Shiya Makabe

6. Kazuki Himeno

7. Michael Leitch

8. Amanaki Mafi

9. Yutaka Nagare

10. Yu Tamura

11. Kenki Fukuoka

12. Harumichi Tatekawa

13. Timothy Lafaele

14.Lomano Lava Lemeki

15. Kotaro Matsushima


16. Atshushi Sakate

17. Shintaro Ishihara

18. Asaeli Ai Valu

19. Yoshitaka Tokunaga

20. Fetuani Lautami

21. Fumiaki Tanaka

22. Sione Teaupa

23. Yoshikazu Fujita