Autumn Nations Series Preview: Week 3 team news and talking points

Johnny Sexton celebrates after scoring a try 6/11/2021
Famous rivalries will be renewed this weekend in the latest round of matches in the Autumn Nations Series as the six Guinness Six Nations teams take centre stage again.

Famous rivalries will be renewed this weekend in the latest round of matches in the Autumn Nations Series as the six Guinness Six Nations teams take centre stage again.

Italy will get the action underway on Saturday as they look to bounce back against Argentina in one of two lunchtime kick-offs, with Scotland also taking on South Africa.

Ireland then welcome the formidable New Zealand to the Aviva Stadium before England wrap up Saturday’s international action against old foes Australia at Twickenham.

Wins for Ireland, England, France and Scotland

Sunday brings the curtain down on the third weekend of the Autumn Nations Series with France’s clash against Georgia and the visit of Fiji to Guinness Six Nations champions Wales.

ITALY V ARGENTINA – Stadio Comunale di Monigo, KO 1pm (GMT) Saturday

Kieran Crowley’s reign began with a 47-9 defeat to New Zealand last weekend, pushing the world No.1 side close until a late second-half blitz in the final 20 minutes.

They welcome Argentina to Treviso this weekend in their first match at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo for 20 years, having lost their last seven Tests against Los Pumas.

Crowley has made five changes to his starting team, with Edoardo Padovani coming in for Federico Mori on the wing and Luca Morisi replacing Marco Zanon at inside centre.

Up front, Ivan Nemer has been handed his second cap, replacing Danilo Fischetti at loosehead prop, while Niccolò Cannone starts in the second row and Giovanni Licata starts at No.8.

Italy: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Edoardo Padovani, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney; 1 Ivan Nemer, 2 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 3 Marco Riccioni, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 5 David Sisi, 6 Sebastian Negri, 7 Michele Lamaro, 8 Giovanni Licata

Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Giovanni Pettinelli, 22 Alessandro Fusco, 23 Federico Mori

Argentina: 15. Emiliano Boffelli, 14. Santiago Cordero, 13. Matias Moroni, 12. Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11. Mateo Carreras, 10. Santiago Carreras, 9. Tomas Cubelli, 1. Thomas Gallo, 2. Julian Montoya (c), 3. Francisco Gomez Kodela, 4. Marcos Kremer, 5. Tomas Lavanini, 6. Pablo Matera, 7. Juan Martin Gonzalez, 8. Facundo Isa

Replacements: 16. Facundo Bosch, 17. Ignacio Calles, 18. Santiago Medrano, 19. Lucas Paulos, 20. Santiago Grondona, 21. Gonzalo Bertranou, 22. Nicolas Sanchez, 23. Lucio Cinti

SCOTLAND V SOUTH AFRICA – BT Murrayfield, KO 1pm (GMT) Saturday

Fresh from defeating the Wallabies 15-13 last time out, Scotland face another mighty test this weekend in the form of the reigning world champions South Africa.

It’s been 11 years since Scotland last beat South Africa – a 21-17 victory in 2010 – and since then the Springboks have won six in a row, including a Rugby World Cup pool match in 2015.

But Gregor Townsend’s side appear to be going from strength to strength, winning their last four Tests including that famous Championship away victory against France in Paris.

Townsend has made four alterations to his starting line-up to face South Africa, with Matt Scott, Rufus McLean and Stuart McInally coming in and Jamie Ritchie switching to openside.

Scotland: 15. Stuart Hogg (C), 14. Rufus McLean, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Matt Scott, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Ali Price; 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. Stuart McInally, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Sam Skinner, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. Nick Haining, 7. Jamie Ritchie, 8. Matt Fagerson

Replacements: 16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Jamie Bhatti, 18. Oli Kebble, 19. Jamie Hodgson, 20. Hamish Watson, 21. George Horne, 22. Adam Hastings, 23. Blair Kinghorn

South Africa: 15. Willie le Roux, 14. Jesse Kriel, 13. Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks), 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Herschel Jantjies; 1. Ox Nché, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 5. Franco Mostert, 6. Siya Kolisi (C), 7. Kwagga Smith, 8. Duane Vermeulen

Replacements: 16. Malcolm Marx, 17. Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19. Lood de Jager, 20. Jasper Wiese, 21. Cobus Reinach, 22. Handré Pollard, 23. Frans Steyn

IRELAND V NEW ZEALAND – Aviva Stadium, KO 3:15pm (GMT) Saturday

Ireland welcome the world’s top-ranked side to Dublin this weekend as Andy Farrell’s men look to back up their impressive 60-5 victory over Japan last time out.

The hosts have won two of their last four Tests against New Zealand – having gone winless in their first 28 meetings with the All Blacks – including their famous 2018 triumph in Dublin.

But New Zealand triumphed in the last meeting between the two sides, winning their 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-final 46-14 to knock Ireland out of the tournament.

Farrell has made just the one change to the Ireland side that started the win over the Brave Blossoms last weekend, with Iain Henderson replacing Tadhg Beirne in the second row.

Ireland: 15. Hugo Keenan, 14. Andrew Conway, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Bundee Aki 11. James Lowe, 10. Johnny Sexton (C), 9. Jamison Gibson Park; 1. Andrew Porter, 2. Ronan Kelleher, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Iain Henderson, 5. James Ryan, 6. Caelan Doris, 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. Jack Conan.

Replacements: 16. Rob Herring, 17. Cian Healy, 18. Finlay Bealham, 19. Tadhg Beirne, 20. Peter O’Mahony, 21. Conor Murray. 22. Joey Carbery, 23. Keith Earls

New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane 12 Anton Lienert Brown, 11 Sevu Reece, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara; 1 Joe Moody, 2 Codie Taylor, 3 Nepo Laulala, 4 Brodie Retallick, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 6 Ethan Blackadder, 7 Dalton Papalii, 8 Ardie Savea.

Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Karl Tuinukuafe, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Tupou Vaai, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Richie Mounga, 23 David Havili.

ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA – Twickenham Stadium, KO 5:15pm (GMT) Saturday

One of rugby’s most famous rivalries concludes Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series action as England welcome Australia to Twickenham for the latest chapter in the saga.

Eddie Jones has never lost a game against his country of birth since becoming England head coach, winning all seven matches in a run stretching back to 2016.

England also have fond memories of beating the Wallabies to win the 2003 World Cup, although Australia also knocked them out of the same competition back in 2015 on home soil.

Jones has named Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell in an England team for the first time for the showdown while he has also named Manu Tuilagi on the wing in a surprise move.

England: 15. Freddie Steward, 14. Manu Tuilagi, 13. Henry Slade, 12. Owen Farrell (c), 11. Jonny May, 10. Marcus Smith, 9. Ben Youngs; 1. Ellis Genge, 2. Jamie George, 3. Kyle Sinckler, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Courtney Lawes, 7. Sam Underhill, 8. Tom Curry

Replacements: 16. Jamie Blamire, 17. Bevan Rodd, 18. Will Stuart, 19. Charlie Ewels, 20. Alex Dombrandt, 21. Sam Simmonds, 22. Raffi Quirke, 23. Max Malins

Australia: 15. Kurtley Beale, 14. Andrew Kellaway, 13. Len Ikitau, 12. Hunter Paisami, 11. Tom Wright, 10. James O’Connor, 9. Nic White; 1. Angus Bell, 2. Folau Fainga’a, 3. James Slipper, 4. Rory Arnold, 5. Izack Rodda, 6. Rob Leota, 7. Michael Hooper (c), 8. Rob Valetini

Replacements: 16. Tolu Latu, 17. Tom Robertson, 18. Oliver Hoskins, 19. Will Skelton, 20. Pete Samu, 21. Tate McDermott, 22. Noah Lolesio, 23. Izaia Perese

FRANCE V GEORGIA – Matmut Stadium, KO 1pm (GMT) Sunday

Les Bleus overcame a tough examination against Argentina last weekend, eventually winning 29-20, and they face another challenge against Georgia on Sunday.

Fabien Galthié has made six changes for his side’s latest Autumn Nations Series test at the Matmut Stadium, with five of those changes coming in the pack.

There’s a whole new second-row as Cameron Woki and Romain Taofifenua are promoted to the engine room in place of Thibaud Flament and Paul Willemse.

Sekou Macalou and Grégory Alldritt are recalled to the back row, while Uini Atonio comes in for Mohamed Haouas and Matthis Lebel starts on the left wing over Gabin Villière.

France: 15. Melvyn Jaminet, 14. Damian Penaud, 13. Gaël Fickou, 12. Romain Ntamack, 11. Matthis Lebel, 10. Matthieu Jalibert, 9. Antoine Dupont (c), 1. Cyril Baille, 2. Julien Marchand, 3. Uini Atonio, 4. Cameron Woki, 5. Romain Taofifenua, 6. Anthony Jelonch, 7. Sekou Macalou, 8. Grégory Alldritt

Replacements: 16. Peato Mauvaka, 17. Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18. Demba Bamba, 19. Thibaud Flament 20. Paul Willemse, 21. François Cros, 22. Maxime Lucu, 23. Jonathan Danty.

Georgia: 15. David Niniashvili, 14. Akaki Tabutsadze, 13. Giorgi Kveseladze, 12. Merab Sharikadze, 11. Alexandre Todua, 10. Tedo Abzhandadze, 9. Vasil Lobzhanidze; 1. Beka Gigashvili, 2. Shalva Mamukashvili, 3. Giorgi Melikidze, 4. Grigor Kerdikoshvili, 5. Kote Mikautadze, 6. Beka Saginadze, 7. Giorgi Tsutskiridze, 8. Beka Gorgadze

Replacements: 16. Giorgi Chkoidze, 17. Guram Gogichashvili, 18. Luka Japaridze, 19. Nodar Cheishvili, 20. Tornike Jalagonia, 21. Mikheil Alania, 22. Lasha Khmaladze, 23. Demur Tapladze

WALES V FIJI – Principality Stadium, KO 3.15pm (GMT) Sunday

Last but not least, Wales entertain Fiji at Principality Stadium as the Guinness Six Nations champions look to bounce back from consecutive defeats to New Zealand and the Springboks.

Wayne Pivac’s side came close to taking down South Africa last weekend before ultimately losing 23-18 to the reigning world champions in an enthralling encounter in Cardiff.

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones ruled out of Guinness Six Nations

And the Wales boss knows what to expect from their next opponents having coached the Fijians between 2004 and 2007 before settling in Wales and taking over from Warren Gatland in 2019.

Wales have made five changes for Sunday’s game, with Thomas Young, Kieran Hardy, Johnny Williams, Alex Cuthbert and Liam Williams coming into the side, which will be captained by Ellis Jenkins.

Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Josh Adams, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Louis Rees-Zammit, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Kieran Hardy, 1 Rhys Carré, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Will Rowlands, 5 Adam Beard, 6 Ellis Jenkins (C), 7 Thomas Young, 8 Taine Basham

Replacements: 16 Bradley Roberts, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 WillGriff John, 19 Christ Tshiunza, 20 Seb Davies, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Nick Tompkins

Fiji: 15. Setareki Tuicuvu, 14. Josua Tuisova, 13. Waisea Nayacalevu, 12. Vilimoni Botitu, 11. Eroni Sau, 10. Ben Volavola, 9. Frank Lomani; 1. Peni Ravai, 2. Sam Matavesi, 3. Mesake Doge, 4. Api Ratuniyarawa, 5. Temo Mayanavanua, 6. Albert Tuisue, 7. Mesulame Kunavula, 8. Vilimae Mata

Replacements: 16. Zuriel Togiatama, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Leeroy Atalifo, 19. Tevita Ratuva, 20. Masivesi Dakuwaqa, 21. Nikola Matawalu, 22. Apisai Naqalevu, 23. Aminiasi Tuimaba