Six Nations teams: England recall Ashton, Scotland bench hat-trick hero

International
AFP
by AFP

The second Six Nations weekend kicks off on Sunday morning (AEDT).

Wales and Italy kick things off, with Scotland hosting Ireland and England facing off against France in the second week.

FIXTURES

Scotland vs Ireland, Murrayfield, Saturday February 9, 2:15pm local, Sunday 1:15am AEDT

Italy vs Wales, Stadio Olimpico, Saturday February 9, 5:45pm local, Sunday 3:45am AEDT

England vs France, Twickenham, Sunday February 10, 3pm local, Monday 2am AEDT

ITALY vs WALES

Conor O'Shea. Photo: Getty imagesItaly coach Conor O'Shea has made two changes for Saturday's clash against Wales in Rome as the Azzurri look to end their run of 18 successive Six Nations losses.

Italy lost their Six Nations opener against Scotland 33-20, but three late unanswered tries have given O'Shea reason for optimism.

Captain Sergio Parisse made a record 66th Six Nations appearance at Murrayfield, as scrum-half Guglielmo Palazzani and wings Edoardo Padovani and Angelo Esposito all scored tries in a late attacking flurry.

Palazzani, who started last week after Tito Tebaldi was injured in the warm-up, continues at scrum-half with Edoardo Gori and back Marco Barbini on the bench.

Nicola Quaglio replaces Andrea Lovotti, who has a bout of flu, with Michele Campagnaro moving to centre to replace Tommaso Castello, who is also ill, and Padovani coming into the starting lineup.

Italy's last win in the Six Nations was against Scotland in Edinburgh in February 2015.

They have beaten the Welsh twice, both times in Rome, in 2003 and 2007.

Victory for Wales at the Stadio Olimpico would make it 11 successive wins and equal their all-time unbeaten record set between 1907 and 1910.

TEAM

IN: Nicola Quaglio, Marco Barbini, Tommaso Benvenuti

OUT: Andrea Lovotti, Tito Tebaldi, Jimmy Tuivalti

1. Nicola Quaglio

2. Leonardo Ghiraldini

3. Simone Ferrari

4. David Sisi

5. Dean Budd

6. Sebastien Negri

7. Braam Steyn

8. Sergio Parisse

9. Guglielmo Palazzani

10. Tommaso Allan

11. Angelo Esposito

12. Luca Morisi

13. Michele Campagnaro

14. Edoardo Padovani

15. Jayden Hayward

Reserves

16. Luca Bigi

17. Cherif Traore

18. Tiziano Pasquali

19. Federico Ruzza

20. Marco Barbini

21. Edoardo Gori

22. Ian McKinley

23. Tommaso Benvenuti

Wales

Jonathan Davies will captain Wales for the first time after the centre was named as skipper by coach Warren Gatland for Saturday's Six Nations match away to Italy in Rome.

Regular captain Alun Wyn Jones is on the bench.

Gatland, announcing his team from the squad's training base in Nice on Thursday, also gave a Six Nations debut to Thomas Young, the Wasps flanker.

Young, who won two caps against Tonga and Samoa on Wales' 2017 tour, lines up in the back-row alongside Aaron Wainwright and Josh Navidi.

The son of Wasps rugby director and former Wales prop Dai Young, Thomas Young has impressed in the English Premiership this season.

Gatland has made 10 changes and one positional switch from the side that came from 16-0 down at half-time to beat France 24-19 in Wales' Six Nations opener in Paris last week.

The New Zealander, in his final Six Nations as Wales coach before standing down after the World Cup, is keen to give all his squad members game time ahead of Japan 2019.

To that end, Leicester back Jonah Holmes has also been given a Six Nations debut, with scrum-half Aled Davies and flanker Wainwright making their first starts in the Championship.

Elsewhere, centre Owen Watkin, fly-half Dan Biggar, lock Jake Ball and hooker Elliot Dee are all included, with Navidi moving from blindside flanker to No 8.

But, as part of Gatland's squad rotation, several players who started against France are not in this week's matchday 23, including wing George North, centre Hadleigh Parkes and hooker Ken Owens.

Victory for Wales at the Stadio Olimpico would make it 11 successive wins and equal their all-time unbeaten record set between 1907 and 1910.

TEAM

IN: Nicky Smith, Jake Ball, Thomas Young, Aled Davies, Jonah Holmes, Ryan Elias, Dillon Lewis, Hallam Amos

OUT: Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Justin Tipuric, Tomos Williams, Hadleigh Parkes, George North, Cory Hill,

1. Nicky Smith

2. Elliot Dee

3. Samson Lee

4. Jake Ball

5. Adam Beard

6. Aaron Wainwright

7. Thomas Young

8. Josh Navidi

9. Aled Davies

10. Dan Biggar

11. Josh Adams

12. Owen Watkin

13. Jonathan Davies

14. Jonah Holmes

15. Liam Williams

Reserves

16. Ryan Elias

17. Wyn Jones

18. Dillon Lewis

19. Alun Wyn Jones

20. Ross Moriarty

21. Gareth Davies

22. Gareth Anscombe

23. Hallam Amos

SCOTLAND vs IRELAND

Blair Kinghorn had a hat-trick for Scotland. Photo: Getty ImagesScotland coach Gregor Townsend said dropping hat-trick scorer Blair Kinghorn to the bench had been a painful decision as he named his side to face Ireland in Saturday's Six Nations match at Murrayfield.

Kinghorn became the first Scotland player in 30 years to score a Championship treble when he ran in three tries during an opening 33-20 win at home to Italy last weekend.

But he now finds himself on the bench for the match, with Townsend restoring fit-again wing Sean Maitland to a now all British and Irish Lions back three also including full-back Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour.

Reigning champions Ireland saw their dreams of back-to-back Grand Slams scuppered with a 32-20 defeat by England in Dublin last week.

But Townsend, after announcing his team on Thursday, was adamant the Irish would provide Scotland with "probably the biggest challenge we'll face in the Guinness Six Nations".

And given that, he has decided to start with experienced Saracens wing Maitland, a veteran of 37 Tests.

But asked how hard it had been to drop Kinghorn to the bench, Townsend replied: "More difficult than what we planned it was going to be the week before."

"Blair's performance did mean that we had an extended discussion that probably went on a second day, but we believe Tommy and Sean are best equipped for this game," the former Scotland playmaker added.

Townsend has also made three changes to his pack, with prop Simon Berghan, yellow-carded against Italy, and back-row Josh Strauss starting in place of the injured Willem Nel (calf) and Sam Skinner (ankle) while Jonny Gray, fit following a shoulder problem, replaces the benched lock Ben Toolis.

TEAM

Scotland to face Ireland

IN: Jonny Gray, Sean Maitland, Fraser Brown, D'arcy Rae, Rob Harley, Pete Horne

OUT: WP Nel, Sam Skinner, Jake Kerr, Gary Graham, Adam Hastings, Chris Harris

1. Allan Dell

2. Stuart McInally

3. Simon Berghan

4. Grant Gilchrist

5. Jonny Gray

6. Ryan Wilson

7. James Ritchie

8. Josh Strauss

9. Greig Laidlaw

10. Finn Russell

11. Sean Maitland

12. Sam Johnson

13. Huw Jones

14. Tommy Seymour

15. Stuart Hogg

Reserves

16. Fraser Brown

17. Jamie Bhatti

18. D'arcy Rae

19. Ben Toolis

20. Rob Harley

21. Ali Price

22. Pete Horne

23. Blair Kinghorn

Ireland

Rob Kearney has been recalled at full-back by an injury-hit Ireland for their Six Nations international away to Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday as the reigning champions look to return to winning ways.

Robbie Henshaw, a British and Irish Lions centre who struggled at fullback in last week's tournament-opening 32-20 loss at home to England, has dropped out of the matchday 23 due to a dead leg injury.

Meanwhile Chris Farrell partners Bundee Aki in midfield following a Dublin defeat that ended their hopes of back-to-back Grand Slams.

"Robbie has a dead leg and just hasn't recovered in time," said Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.

"We're just going to have to forge ahead, but it's an exciting opportunity to give Chris Farrell a run against Scotland. He's coming back to form after a long lay-off," Schmidt added.

Farrell was selected after Garry Ringrose, who played against England, was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

The experienced Kearney, who will win an 88th Ireland cap in Edinburgh, has been working his way back to full fitness following a thigh problem.

TEAM

Ireland to face Scotland

IN: Jack Conan, Chris Farrell, Rob Kearney, Ultan Dillane

OUT: Devin Toner, CJ Stander, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw

1. Cian Healy

2. Rory Best

3. Tadhg Furlong

4. Quinn Roux

5. James Ryan

6. Peter O'Mahony

7. Sean O'Brien

8. Jack Conan

9. Conor Murray

10. Jonathan Sexton

11. Jacob Stockdale

12. Bundee Aki

13. Keith Earls

14. Chris Farrell

15. Rob Kearney

Reserves

16. Sean Cronin

17. Dave Kilcoyne

18. Andrew Porter

19. Ultan Dillane

20. Josh van der Flier

21. John Cooney

22. Joey Carbery

23. Jordan Larmour

ENGLAND vs FRANCE

England coach Eddie Jones has dropped Jack Nowell from his starting side and recalled Chris Ashton on the right wing against France in the Six Nations at Twickenham on Sunday.

Ashton came off the bench to replace Nowell six minute before the end of England's impressive 33-20 first-round win away to reigning Six Nations champions Ireland last weekend.

Chris Ashton will start for England. Photo: Getty ImagesThe 31-year-old Sale flyer knows France well, having returned to England from Top 14 club Toulon before the start of this season.

The match will be Ashton's first start in the Six Nations since 2013.

The other change to the side announced Friday is in the pack where Courtney Lawes comes into the second row after Maro Itoje suffered a knee injury against Ireland in Dublin. 

Front rows Dan Cole and Ben Moon, as well as second row Joe Launchbury, are included on the bench for the first time in this Six Nations.

"We have gone for Chris Ashton on the wing; we think he might sneak us a try early in the game," said Jones of the 31-year-old, who has scored 20 tries in 43 Tests.

"Jack Nowell was brilliant against Ireland and he'll play a significant role for us off the bench," the Australian added.

Turning to the second row, Jones said: "It is unfortunate Maro is injured but he has been rehabbing well so we are hopeful he will be back earlier than maybe first predicted. 

"We have got great depth in the squad so Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes will fill his shoes very well." 

England, again captained by fly-half Owen Farrell, will be up against a France side looking to bounce back from the shock of squandering a 16-0 half-time lead before losing 24-19 to Wales in Paris last weekend.

"After the Ireland game we have had to refocus and reset," said Jones, speaking before France announced their side for Twickenham earlier Friday.

"The French are always an interesting side to play against," said the former Australia and Japan coach.

"They are full of talent, they have a lot of unpredictability so it's hard to prepare tactically against them so we have had a real focus on ourselves."  

England have won nine of the last 12 Six Nations games against France, with Les Bleus' last win over the Red Rose at Twickenham an 18-17 success back in 2005.  

"We can't wait to play in front of our supporters, I'm sure they will be buoyant by the first round results and we promise we will play a better game on Sunday," said Jones.

Team

IN: Ben Moon, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury

OUT: Maro Itoje, Ellis Genge, Harry Williams

1. Mako Vunipola

2. Jamie George

3. Kyle Sinckler

4. Courtney Lawes

5. George Kruis

6. Mark Wilson

7. Tom Curry

8. Billy Vunipola

9. Ben Youngs

10. Owen Farrell (capt)

11. Jonny May

12. Manu Tuilagi

13. Henry Slade

14. Chris Ashton

15. Elliot Daly

Reserves

16. Luke Cowan-Dickie

17. Ben Moon

18. Dan Cole

19. Joe Launchbury

20. Nathan Hughes

21. Dan Robson

22. George Ford

23. Jack Nowell

FRANCE

Centre Mathieu Bastareaud returns as South Africa-born lock Paul Willemse is dropped to the bench in two of six changes for France's Six Nations fixture against England on Sunday, the French Rugby Federation announced.

The experienced Bastareaud with 50 caps to his name was not included in the squad for last weekend's loss to Wales in the competition's opening game but is recalled for the trip to Twickenham.

La Rochelle's Geoffrey Doumayrou joins Bastareaud in the midfield as Wesley Fofana is sidelined by injury and teenager Romain Ntamack is on the bench.

Willemse, who made his debut against Warren Gatland's side, is replaced by 24-year-old Felix Lambey who will start his first Test match after three games as a substitute.

The other changes sees youngster Demba Bamba start at tight-head prop, flanker Yacouba Camara is in for Wenceslas Lauret and Stade Francais' Gael Fickou is brought in on the left wing as the back-three is shuffled due to Maxime Medard's injury problems.

Toulouse pair Thomas Ramos and Dorian Aldegheri could make their international debuts as a replacements.

TEAM

IN: Yacouba Camara, Mathieu Bastareaud, Antoine Dupont,Thomas Ramos, Dorian Aldegheri, Pierre Bourgarit

OUT: Uini Atonio,Wenceslas Lauret, Maxime Medard, Baptiste Serin, Julian Marchand, Wesley Fofana

1. Jefferson Poirot

2. Guilhem Guirado

3. Demba Bamba

4. Sebastien Vahaamahina

5. Felix Lambey

6. Yacouba Camara

7. Arthur Iturria

8. Louis Picamoles

9. Morgan Parra

10. Camille Lopez

11. Gael Fickou

12. Geffroy Doumayrou

13. Mathieu Bastareaud

14. Damien Penaud

15. Yoann Huget

Reserves

16. Pierre Bourgarit

17. Dany Priso

18. Dorian Aldegheri

19. Paul Willemse

20. Gregory Alldritt

21. Antoine Dupont

22. Romain Ntamack

23. Thomas Ramos