The second round of the Autumn Nations Cup takes place this weekend after a fairly sedate start last week. You can catch up with the fixtures, results and our associated coverage here and there are replays of each game available on Amazon Prime.
After a fairly low key start last week, with only the Scotland Italy game springing into life, things should pick up this week with three attractive fixtures still standing at the time of writing (details below).
|Sat, 21 Nov 20||Italy||C – C||Fiji||Amazon Prime||Premier Sports|
|Sat, 21 Nov 20||England||15:00||Ireland||C4, Amazon Prime||RTE|
|Sat, 21 Nov 20||Wales||17:15||Georgia||Amazon Prime||Premier Sports|
|Sun, 22 Nov 20||Scotland||15:00||France||Amazon Prime||Premier Sports|
With Italy Fiji cancelled due to Fiji’s COVID-19 outbreak the England Ireland match kicks off this week’s coverage with both sides making changes from last week’s outings, against Georgia and Wales respectively.
Following, Iain Henderson’s and Jacob Stockdale’s late withdrawal last week both find themselves on the bench for this one where they are joined by clubmates Rob Herring and Billy Burns.
Coach Andy Farrell brings Keith Earls, Bundee Aki and Ross Byrne into the starting back line and CJ Stander comes into the back row. There is plenty being written this week about the non Irish born players involved, with Aki, Stander and Herring taking the squad total up to eight this week or 35% of the squad.
However, the biggest concern in my book is Earls, Healy and O’Mahoney in the starting line up for a match that should be the start of the build up for the 2023 World Cup. We all know they are great players but there are plenty of youngsters needing looked at in a match that will be long forgotten before the World Cup rolls round.
England’s changes have involved bumping their “finishers” up as Mako Vunipola, Kyle Sinckler, Tom Curry and Sam Underhill all come into the starting line up. George Ford returns to the squad after injury to take up a bench spot.
We’ve been tidying up our U20 coverage the last few days and, as an interesting aside, Ford’s return to the England squad makes it seven players from their 2011 U20 Grand Slam match against Ireland U20’s in this game. None of the Ireland U20’s from that game are involved but it did feature “Ulster” players Martin Moore and Jordi Murphy. Hmm!
The FRU Predicts: Given his normal penchant for over dramatising everything Eddy Jones has billed this as the biggest game of the year. Whoo! While Ireland will be well up for this one I suspect it will be England who grind out the win.
Teams for England v Ireland
|Elliot Daly||15||Hugo Keenan|
|Jonathan Joseph||14||Keith Earls|
|Ollie Lawrence||13||Chris Farrell|
|Henry Slade||12||Bundee Aki|
|Jonny May||11||James Lowe|
|Owen Farrell (c)||10||Ross Byrne|
|Ben Youngs||9||Jamison Gibson-Park|
|Mako Vunipola||1||Cian Healy|
|Jamie George||2||Ronan Kelleher|
|Kyle Sinckler||3||Andrew Porter|
|Maro Itoje||4||Quinn Roux|
|Joe Launchbury||5||James Ryan (c)|
|Tom Curry||6||CJ Stander|
|Sam Underhill||7||Peter O’Mahony|
|Billy Vunipola||8||Caelan Doris|
|Tom Dunn||16||Rob Herring|
|Ellis Genge||17||Ed Byrne|
|Will Stuart||18||Finlay Bealham|
|Jonny Hill||19||Iain Henderson|
|Ben Earl||20||Will Connors|
|Dan Robson||21||Conor Murray|
|George Ford||22||Billy Burns|
|Max Malins||23||Jacob Stockdale|