Six Nations Teams: Te'o to start for England, Gatland calls up Beard for Wales

International
AAP
by AAP

The Six Nations has turned for home and teams are being named for round four.

Wales will take on Scotland, England meet Italy and the Irish clash with France. Here's how the squads are looking.

FIXTURES

Scotland vs Wales, Murrayfield, Saturday March 9, 2;15pm local, Sunday 1:15am AEDT

England vs Italy, Twickenham, Saturday March 9, 4:45pm local, Sunday 3:45am AEDT

Ireland vs France, Aviva Stadium, Sunday March 10, 3pm local, Monday 2am AEDT

SCOTLAND vs WALES

Cory Hill will captain Wales against Argentina. Photo: Getty ImagesWales coach Warren Gatland has made one injury-enforced change to his unbeaten Six Nations side as they look to move closer to the title against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Adam Beard comes in at lock in place of the injured Cory Hill in the one alteration from the team that beat England 21-13 in their last game in Cardiff on Feb. 23.

Hill was one of the heroes of that Welsh win but injured his ankle near the end of the game and has since been ruled out of the rest of the Six Nations.

Beard has featured in the last nine tests, either starting or off the replacement bench. Jake Ball takes his place among the substitutes.

"It was a fairly straightforward selection in view of the performance against England," Gatland said on Tuesday.

"Our bench has been fantastic for us. They have given us an impact. Not just in the last game but in others."

He was speaking at a hastily called news conference as the team announcement was brought forward amid the distraction of reported plans to merge two of Welsh rugby's biggest teams.

There is no place in the matchday squad still for Leigh Halfpenny despite a return at club level for the fullback.

Finn Russell is set to make his Scotland return against Wales after being included in coach Gregor Townsend's starting XV for Saturday's Six Nations international at Murrayfield.

But former Scotland playmaker Townsend has dropped regular captain Greig Laidlaw to the bench, with Ali Price taking over at scrum-half in a side now skippered by hooker Stuart McInally following the team's poor showing in a disappointing 27-10 loss away to France last time out.

Fly-half Russell was missed greatly by the Scots that match, having been ruled out with a head injury suffered while playing for Paris-based club side Racing 92.

Russell has replaced Pete Horne in the No 10 shirt, with Horne moved to inside centre instead of Sam Johnson.

Townsend has made four personnel changes in total to the team beaten in Paris.

In addition to the new half-back pairing, 21-year-old Edinburgh wing Darcy Graham is set for a first start after Sean Maitland was ruled out with a foot injury.

The only change to the pack sees tighthead prop Willem Nel, fit following a foot problem, come in to form an all-Edinburgh front row with McInally and loosehead Allan Dell.

Teams

Wales  to play Scotland

Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty, Gareth Davies, Gareth Anscombe, Josh Adams, Hadleigh Parkes, JOnathan Davies, George North, Liam Williams. Reserves: Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Aaron Wainwright, Aled Davies, Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin. 

Scotland to play Wales

Allan Dell, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Josh Strauss, Ali Price, Finn Russell, Darcy Graham, Pete Horne, Nick Grigg, Tommy Seymour, Blair Kinghorn.    Reserves: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Hamish Watson, Greig Laidlaw, Adam Hastings, Byron McGuigan

ENGLAND vs ITALY

England centre Manu Tuilagi is confident his new midfield partnership with Ben Te'o will demonstrate the duo's rugby brains as well as their physical threat when they face Italy at Twickenham on Saturday.

The pair, who both have Pacific Islands heritage, will start a Test together for the first time as England look to revive their Six Nations campaign after a 21-13 defeat by Wales in Cardiff last time out.

England coach Eddie Jones has dropped Henry Slade to the bench, with Tuilagi moved to outside centre to accommodate the return of Te'o.

One of the more eye-catching statistics about England's new midfield duo is their combined weight of 34 stone (216 kg).

But a modest Tuilagi praised his new partner's ball-handling ability.

"I think Benny can play a bit as well so he'll vary that," said Tuilagi.

"I think playing Italy, they are unpredictable, so we'll have to mix our game up a little bit and having Benny at 12 will allow us to do that."

Tuilagi's on-field exploits in an injury-plagued career have largely been characterised in terms of the 27-year-old's pace and power.

Italy captain Sergio Parisse has recovered from a head injury  for the clash, the Italian Rugby Federation announced on Thursday.

The 136-time Test international missed the Azzurri's 26-16 defeat to Ireland two weeks ago with concussion.

Parisse, 35, will wear the number eight jersey to complete a back row along with Braam Steyn and the returning Sebastian Negri who has recovered from illness.

Edoardo Padovani has been confirmed in his new role on the wing having scored in all the games played so far in the tournament which also included defeats to Scotland (33-20) and Wales (26-15).

Hooker Luca Bigi gets his first start of the Championship in place of veteran Leonardo Ghiraldini, who drops to the bench after captaining the team in Parisse's absence against Ireland.

Teams

England to face Italy

Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Joe Launchbury, George Kruis, Brad Shields, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, Ben Teo, Manu Tuilagi, Joe Cokanasiga, Elliot Daly. Reserves: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ben Moon, Dan Cole, Nathan Hughes, Mark Wilson, Dan Robson, George Ford, Henry Slade

italy to play England

Andrea Lovotti, Luca Bigi, Simone Ferrari, Federico Ruzza, Dean Budd, Sebastian Negri, BRaam Steyn, Sergio Parisse, Tito Tebaldi, Tommaso Allan, Angelo Esposito, Michele Campagnaro, Luca Morisi, Edoardo Padovani, Jayden Hayward. Reserves: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Cherif Traore, Tiziano Pasquali, David Sisi, Jake Polledri, Guglielmo Palazzani, Ian McKinley, Tommaso Castello

 

IRELAND vs FRANCE

Jacques Brunel's squad has faced some injury battles. Photo: Getty ImagesFrance head coach Jacques Brunel named an unchanged team to face Ireland in the Six Nations, keeping faith in talented rookies Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack.

Five-eighth Ntamack, 19, and 22-year-old halfback Dupont put on a promising performance in a 27-10 home victory against Scotland in the previous round, and the pair will be put to test again at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.

"The context will be different and I hope our pack will put the halfbacks in good conditions," Brunel told a news conference on Tuesday.

With Ireland expected to rely on Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray's kicking game to unsettle the French, the 23-year-old Thomas Ramos will again start at fullback.

France, who lost 24-19 to Wales in their opener, paid a heavy price for fielding winger Yoann Huget at fullback and centres on the wings in a 44-8 thrashing by England, when they were bombarded by their rivals' offensive kicks.

"We work on this every week," said Brunel.

"The Irish know how to put you under pressure with high kicks, notably with Murray, we worked on this specifically."

Veteran flanker Sean O'Brien has been omitted from the Ireland squad y and replaced by Leinster tam-mate Josh van der Flier in the starting line-up

For O'Brien it is the first time for years under both Joe Schmidt and his predecessor Declan Kidney that he has not made the squad when fully fit.

Only two years ago he was one of the standout players in the drawn series between the British & Irish Lions and world champions New Zealand.

Coincidentally the 32-year-old known as the 'Tullow Tank' for his bullocking runs -- who would have many more than 55 caps to his name but for a series of injuries -- will join up with Kidney at English side London Irish next season.

Van der Flier is one of six changes to the scrum Schmidt has made from the unimpressive 26-16 win over Italy a fortnight ago.

South Africa-born No 8 CJ Stander returns after recovering from the fractured cheekbone and eye socket he suffered in the opening defeat by England which ended their hopes of successive Grand Slams.

Grizzled hooker Rory Best returns as expected to captain the side -- fellow veteran Cian Healy starts too in place of Dave Kilcoyne -- whilst the second row sees the proven duo of Iain Henderson and James Ryan replace Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux.         

Teams

France to play Ireland

Jefferson Poirot, Guilhem Guirado, Demba Bamba, Sebastien Vahaamahima, Felix Lambey, Wenceslas Lauret, Arthur Iturria, Louis PIcamoles, Antoine Dupont, Romain Ntamack, Yoann Huget, Gael Fickou, Mathieu Bastareaud, Damian Penaud, Thomas Ramos. Reserves: Camille Chat, Etienne Falgoux, Dorian Aldegheri, Paul Willemse, Gregory Alldritt, Baptiste Serin, Anthony Belleau, Maxime Medard.

Ireland to play France

Cian Healy, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Peter O'Mahony, Josh Van der Flier, CJ Stander, Conor Murray, Johnny Sexton, Jacob Stockdale, Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose, Keith Earls, Rob Kearney. Reserves: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Ultan Dillane, Jack Conan, John Cooney, Jack Carty, Jordan Larmour.