Forwards: C Clark (Northampton Saints), A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), T Croft (Leicester Tigers), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), J Haskell (London Wasps), T Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), J Launchbury (London Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), J Marler (Harlequins), B Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), G Parling (Leicester Tigers), C Robshaw (Harlequins), M Vunipola (Saracens), T Waldrom (Leicester Tigers), D Wilson (Bath Rugby), T Wood (Northampton Saints), T Youngs (Leicester Tigers).
Backs: C Ashton (Saracens), B Barritt (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins), F Burns (Gloucester Rugby), D Care (Harlequins), L Dickson (Northampton Saints), O Farrell (Saracens), T Flood (Leicester Tigers), B Foden (Northampton Saints), A Goode (Saracens), J Joseph (London Irish), D Strettle (Saracens), M Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers).
England in for a tough time if it rains I think. Scotland seem to always beat (or draw with) England in the rain. I'd expect England to win though.
Not sure what to expect from Wales, injuries taken their toll, had a bad autumn, but didn't do too bad against NZ and Australia. All depends on team selection, not sure what to expect there, Howley seems to favour the Scarlets players over the Ospreys and as was proven over xmas, that is baffling. Unconvinced by Howley as a coach and Mark Jones who has replaced him as attack coach has not done much with possibly the best back line in Welsh rugby at Scarlets. Some players have a lot to prove; Warburton and Jamie Roberts need to step it up in particular. There's a few who have got a chance due to injuries; huge opportunity for Biggar and he needs to take it.
Depending on injuries my team would be: Byrne, Halfpenny, Davies, Roberts, North, Biggar, Phillips; Jenkins, Hibbard, A Jones, R Jones, Evans, Warburton, Tipuric, Faletau. Won't happen though.
Not sure whet to expect from Ireland either. Team should line up like this: Kearney, Zebo, O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Gilroy/Earls/Fitzgerald (tough call there), Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best, Ross, Ryan, McCarthy, O'Mahony, O'Brien, Heaslip.
I'd go with Gilroy after his last outing in an Irish shirt. Would be a tough call on Earls though, Fitzgerald is hitting form as well... If we really had the world cup in mind we would be experimenting new centre pertnerships - Earls and Fitzgerald being one possibility. Not going to happen though. Another close call could be between O'Mahoney and Chris Henry but I'd say O'Mahony will edge it.
That was pretty much the side I was thinking. It'll be an interesting game. My worry is if Ian Evans and Ryan Jones don't make it because that'll be us down to 6th & 7th choice second rows and that'll be a big blow for us. I'd like to see Lee Byrne play as he's been brilliant for Clermont and is more of a natural FB than Halfpenny, who i'd put on the wing as he would offer something different, with Roberts in centre and Cuthbert and North on the wings we've become a bit of a crash ball side. It'll be harsh on Cuthbert as he's probably been better than North over the last year, can't see it happening anyway. Another thing with Byrne is that he's playing in France so hasn't been training with Wales as much. Apart from that, back line picks itself.
Forwards, i'm not sure Howley will go with both Warburton and Tipuric, Warburton is captain so he'll play but Tipuric is the form man, put in some great performances against Leicester and Toulouse. For me, we have to get Tipuric in, best player in Wales right now. The other doubt I have in the pack is Gethin Jenkins at prop, not been playing a lot at Toulon and was pretty poor in the Autumn, Bevington and Andrews could be given a chance.
I'm glad Gilroy has been given the nod. Very exciting back three there. Are Wales announcing there team today as well or will it be later in the week ? Has Eli Walker any chance of starting ? Very impressive in the bits I saw in the Heineken.
Corbisiero out for England, Tuilagi missing the Scotland game. Maitland and Visser selected for Scotland on the wings in that game.
Eli Walker has been injured recently so doubt it. Even before it was a doubt with North, Cuthbert and Halfpenny ahead of him. Very talented player though, like Gilroy he's got that bit of flair, Shane Williams-esque. I'm not sure when the Wales team gets announced, can't find any info on it, i'm thinking it'll be tonight at 6ish when the evening regional news is on.
Scotland XV to play England: Hogg, Maitland, Lamont, Scott, Visser, Jackson, Laidlaw; Grant, Hall, Murray, Gray, Hamilton, Strokosch, Brown, Beattie.
Tuilagi in my opinion is a big blow, England in the past have missed him when he has been out. I'd imagine Twelvetrees will come in with Barritt (?).
I've just read that the Wales team gets announced on Thursday. A bit later than I expected, i'd imagine that's due to a few injury doubts, Ian Evans and Ryan Jones came through full training yesterday so it looks like they'll be good to go if they were OK today.
England have released a number of players back to their clubs tonight, giving an indication of who will play on the weekend.
England's 23 man squad for the weekend is...
Forwards: Cole Hartley Haskell Launchbury Lawes Marler Morgan Parling Robshaw M Vunipola Wilson Wood T Youngs
Backs: C Ashton B Barritt M Brown D Care O Farrell T Flood A Goode D Strettle B Twelvetrees B Youngs
Massively proud Welshman but as I'm not really fussed about rugby (and we're shit at the moment), I'm not really too bothered about the Six Nations. The only rugby I really watch though is Wales so I'm sure (prompted by a few drinking sessions) that I'll get into the swing of things! As JSNFRMN_MUFC said, despite our poor form, we you can never really know what Wales will turn up. We could be predictably poor and get one win, or the untried youngsters and under fire players could really step up and make a good defence of our title
A win on Saturday will change everything for us in my opinion. A loss could leave us with a struggle and under huge pressure in games we're expected to win; Scotland and Italy. We don't have a winning mentality like England, France and Ireland have when it comes to playing Southern Hemisphere sides. Six Nations has been our bread and butter in recent years, 3 grand slams in the last 8 years is pretty good going, our problem has been after each one of those we've not pushed on.
Wouldn't say we're shit at the moment, just lacking confidence, we've got the players but they need to step up now. We've lost our last 7 games now, we had a tough series with Australia in the summer, we were probably the better side in all 3 games but couldn't get the win. In the autumn; Argentina had just come out of a very good tournament playing against NZ, Aus and SA and were ready for the battle, Wales came in cold, without our coach and lacking in form and confidence. We should have done better but Argentina aren't a bad side by any means and played outstanding. Samoa can beat any Northern Hemisphere side on their day in my opinion, they're not the minnows they were, they beat us for physicality, the disappointing thing is that we had no answer for it. Against NZ we did well despite getting a bit of a hammering in the first half, we looked competitive throughout the match. Huge improvement again against Australia and should have won.
Richard Hibbard, Ryan Jones, Eli Walker, Lou Reed and Liam Williams were not considered due to injury. Disappointed a bit with the selection of Shingler, not convinced by him and we have one of the best flankers in Europe on the bench. I've not seen any of Coombs so can't comment, quite short for a second row, impressed in training, likes to carry ball and is quite physical, interested to see how he gets on. If not for Hibbard's injury, I don't think Rees would be playing, he's not even first choice at Scarlets (moving to Blues next season). Pretty much expected in the backs, i'd have liked to change it up a bit instead of just having Roberts, North and Cuthbert running at brick walls all day which is all we seem to do in attack these days although Jon Davies and Halfpenny do add something different.
I'm not sure if Wales made Ireland look good in the first half or if it was the other way around. Bit of both maybe. Not sure where we go from here. Time to drop the big names for the form players. Too many out there not up to it. Jenkins, Rees, Warburton, Phillips, Roberts, North. Adam Jones didn't look fully fit either. Biggar will get criticised but thought he did well bar that kick, poor and slow service from Phillips didn't help him. Liked the look of Coombs, showed inexperience at ruck at times though. Halfpenny looked good again. Cuthbert was more of a threat than North but still think he's suspect defensively. Could do with 2 or 3 more Halfpenny's. Lloyd Williams did very well off the bench, i'd start him next game. Tipuric was class off the bench, the name's Shingler and Warburton were rarely spoken by the commentators. If only we had Lydiate to partner Tipuric and Faletau in the back row.
Selection and tactics just not right. Ultimately the blame falls at Rob "Howler" Howley. Legend as a player. Poor as a coach. 8 games now we've lost, most of those with Howley in charge. I fear for the wooden spoon now. We're expected to go to Scotland and Italy and win, with no confidence, i'm not so sure. Genuinely worried about the future on and off the pitch. Gone backwards again.
Congratulations Ireland. Good luck in the rest of the tournament.
Anyone watch the game today? Italy were outstanding, France played like Wales did in the first half yesterday, perhaps a bit better. No longer the pushovers they were. They've come a long way. Orquera was class at 10. The Rabo Pro12 isn't a great league but the Italians joining it has made them stronger. They look fitter and more threatening in the backs, same old physical forwards. Stadio Olimpico looks a great move too. They got 60,000 crowd in. Not looking forward to Wales playing there in 3 weeks especially if we lose to France.
Crazy game on Saturday. To be 30-3 up with 35 minutes left you would not think your nerves would be tested towards the end. Looking at the stats - tackles made, possession, territory you would think Wales won this game by a handsome margin. We kicked far too much ball away in my opinion, Gilroy made a few very bad kicks. Think to beat England we will have to have a lot more possession and territory because there's no way we'll be able to put up that defensive showing two weeks in a row.
Plenty of positives to take away from the game though, think that was probably our toughest fixture so it's good it's over with. Winning a game like this in the first round of fixtures builds a huge momentum for the rest of the tournament - last time we won the 6 nations we had a good win against France in the first game which set the tone. It's key we keep certain players fit to have any hope of winning the championship - guys like Ross and Best have to be fit. That is the problem with Ireland ultimately - a fully fit 15 we can beat anyone, a few injuries and we really struggle. Best example was last June coming very close to beating and outplaying a full strength New Zealand away one week and then losing by 60 points the next.
Some lads really put their hands up for Lions selection. O'Brien has to be somewhere in that back row. He made the most tackles and the most ball carries on Saturday which is very rare - something like 20 tackles which is ridiculous. Healy had another solid showing and also got through a lot of work, Murray showed what he can do in front of Gatland.. Doubt he's ready to start for the Lions but he should make the plane. From a Welsh perspective Halfpenny got the better of Kearney in their mini duel. Very impressed with Tipuric when he came on too. Hopefully he gets a run of games to stake his claim.
Only saw 5 minutes of Italy-France. Saw Picamoles' try and thought France would grind out the win. Pleased for Italy. Do they have an infrastructure in place for continued development?
Looking forward to France-Wales. Both teams will be hurting and looking to put in a performance. Could be a cracker.
Our game against Everton clashes with Ire-Eng. Will record the rugby, hopefully not hear the score and watch when I get home.
Very good win for Italy but it's hard to know what the future holds when guys like Parisse are finished. At underage level they continuously get pummelled every year at under 20 level so the signs suggest it will be another few years yet before they can match the other top tier nations on a consistent basis. As Jason said it's been a big boost to them having two clubs in the Pro 12. Treviso have come on in leaps and bounds and the big sides always struggle against them. There are positive signs and it would be good for the tournament if they continued to have wins like this.
France-Wales is always interesting, very hard to pick a winner.
Didn't see England on Saturday but they sounded impressive. I'm expecting another huge physical battle next Sunday.
I think both England scrum halves are the 2 main SH picks. Murray probably 3rd. For a small man Halfpenny is very good under the high ball, the problem he's got is Wales are playing bad and it's 1 dimensional, he's not able to show what he can do in attack as we're not using the ball enough unless we're desperate (which is what we saw in 2nd half). Our attack consists mainly of passing to Roberts and getting over the gainline. The back 3 hardly get the ball, took 35 minutes to get North on the ball! It's not the players fault, their obviously instructed to play this way. It's not fair on Roberts either as there is more to him. It's been successful in the past but teams have figured us out, we ran all over Ireland last year, they learnt from that and put big tacklers on our runners. I doubt we're going to move away from this style though and the same players will be retained for France as they're used to the style. I expect mostly the same team, I don't expect Tipuric to start, I think Ryan Jones will come in for Shingler. My one hope for Saturday is that France play as badly as they did on Sunday, we'll probably get the opposite though as they'll want to bounce back. I'm not sure we have the characters to bounce back, Warburton went missing not only as a player but as a captain too, being a captain is easy when you're winning, it's when you're losing you need your captain, the senior players didn't cover themselves in glory either, Jenkins and Rees both been captains. One of the youngest players we have, Tipuric showed more leadership qualities, captained Ospreys in his first season, not saying he should be captain but we need people like him in the side, Ryan Jones coming back will be a boost as he is a leader and has experience.
Team: Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North, Dan Biggar, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones, Andrew Coombs, Ian Evans, Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau, Justin Tipuric.
Replacements: Paul James, Ken Owens, Craig Mitchell, Olly Kohn/Ryan Jones/Aaron Shingler, Lloyd Williams, James Hook, Scott Williams.
If Ryan Jones had been fit, fully fit I think he'd have been in ahead of Tipuric or Warburton. Good to see Hibbard in, the form Hooker in Wales, done very well in Europe and probably 2nd choice to Rory Best right now for Lions. Glad we've stuck with Biggar, deserves a chance, apart from the one mistake he did well. We could have made a host of changes, but it's best not to quite yet, last chances for a few of them though, Gethin Jenkins was lucky. Aswell as Jenkins; Warburton, Phillips, North, Roberts, Davies really need to step up not only as players but leaders too.
Brilliant result and performance by Scotland earlier. They really look a lot threatening in the backs now. Forwards showed up this week too. Harley was great at 6, bit like a 7 playing 6 though at times.
Delighted with how Wales bounced back after last week and the other 8 losses before that. A brilliant win and hopefully a turning point for us. Finally Tipuric got his chance and he was outstanding. Ryan Jones was another to make a difference. Glad we stuck with Biggar and he put in a good display, a few mistakes but nothing costly and he helped win us the game with the kick at the end. With games I think he can grow into international rugby. Coombs looks like he's been playing international rugby for years. 28 now, where's he been?
Italy next, i'd stick with the same set of forwards, back row was too good to justify bringing Warburton back in. I can't see us changing anything in the backs but there is certainly a lack of creativity in midfield, Hook in as a centre would be interesting but for who i'm not sure, he's also not played centre for a while.
Very impressed with England on Sunday, their line speed was incredible. Robshaw was excellent as were Launchbury and Parling in the second row. Physically Ireland couldn't cope - it was the same in the Autumn against South Africa. To be able to bring Tuilagi, Care and Lawes off the bench tells you of the strength in depth England have at present. From an Irish perspective it was dire day and the injuries to Zebo (broken foot), Sexton (hamstring), O'Driscoll (twisted ankle) and the citing for Cian Healy just compounded the misery.
Great wins for Scotland and particularly Wales in Paris. Didn't see the games but just read about George Norths old man running onto the pitch to celebrate with him ha.
Wales named unchanged starting lineup for Italy. Bench not named yet but Alun Wyn Jones and Warburton likely to return to bench. Glad we've not changed it, players deserve to keep places. Only change I may have made was Lloyd Williams for Mike Phillips. Former Welsh rugby players tipping Phillips for Lions #9. Not my choice though, both English SH's ahead of him, think he'll get on plane ahead of Murray though due to Gatland and his experience of being on tour before plus he was excellent in SA. Seeing a lot of Lions XV's with mostly young players.