Autumn Nations Series Preview: Week 4 team news and talking points

Antoine Dupont 14/11/2021
All six Guinness Six Nations sides return to action for one last time in 2021 this weekend as the Autumn Nations Series comes to a close in spectacular style.

All six Guinness Six Nations sides return to action for one last time in 2021 this weekend as the Autumn Nations Series comes to a close in spectacular style.

The action gets underway with another lunchtime double-header as Italy go in search of their first win under Kieran Crowley against Uruguay and Scotland face Japan in Edinburgh.

Attention then switches to Twickenham where England host South Africa in a repeat of the 2019 World Cup final before Wales look to end the year on a high against Australia in Cardiff.

Farrell faces fitness race for 2022 Guinness Six Nations

France’s unbeaten November will be put on the line against New Zealand in Saturday’s climax before Sunday sees Ireland take on Argentina following their historic win over the All Blacks.

We have the lowdown on all the talking points and team news below as the six Championship teams continue preparations for the upcoming 2022 Guinness Six Nations.

ITALY V URUGUAY – Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, KO 1pm (GMT) Saturday

Kieran Crowley is yet to taste victory as Italy head coach but he will hope to get off the mark when his side welcome Uruguay to Parma in their Autumn Nations Series finale.

The Azzurri head coach has made several changes to the side that started the 37-16 defeat to Argentina last time out, including bringing in debutant Pierre Bruno on the right wing.

Callum Braley also starts alongside Paolo Garbisi in the half-back pairing while Braam Steyn starts at No.8 having helped Italy A to victory over Uruguay last weekend.

Michele Lamaro: Italy’s new captain, son of Olympic sailor who idolised Richie McCaw

There is a new second row as Marco Fuser and Federico Ruzza both start while Luca Bigi returns at hooker and Danilo Fischetti starts at loosehead, with Ivan Nemer switching to tighthead.

Italy: 15. Edoardo Padovani, 14. Pierre Bruno, 13. Juan Ignacio Brex, 12. Luca Morisi, 11. Montanna Ioane, 10. Paolo Garbisi, 9. Callum Braley; 1. Danilo Fischetti, 2. Luca Bigi, 3. Ivan Nemer, 4. Marco Fuser, 5. Federico Ruzza, 6. Sebastian Negri, 7. Michele Lamaro, 8. Abraham Steyn

Replacements: 16. Epalahame Faiva, 17. Cherif Traore, 18. Pietro Ceccarelli, 19. David Sisi, 20. Giovanni Licata, 21. Alessandro Fusco, 22. Carlo Canna, 23. Ratuva Tavuyara

Uruguay: 15. Rodrigo Silva, 14. Federico Favaro, 13. Felipe Arcos Pérez, 12. Nicolás Freitas, 11. Gastón Mieres, 10. Felipe Etcheverry, 9. Tomas Inciarte; 1. Mateo Sanguinetti, 2. Germán Kessler, 3. Diego Arbelo, 4. Eric Dosantos, 5. Manuel Leindekar, 6. Manuel Ardao, 7. Santiago Civetta, 8. Manuel Diana

Replacements: 16. Facundo Gattas, 17. Ignacio Peculo, 18. Matías Benítez, 19. Diego Magno, 20. Franco Lamanna, 21. Agustín Ormaechea, 22. Mateo Viñals, 23. Juan Manuel Alonso

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

Gregor Townsend’s men will be hoping for an instant response following their defeat to world champions South Africa last time out when they welcome Japan to Edinburgh.

There are two changes in the backline and a further five in the forward pack following their 30-15 defeat to the Springboks the Autumn Nations Series last weekend.

Sam Johnson and Darcy Graham come in for Matt Scott and Rufus McLean at inside centre and right wing, respectively, as Stuart Hogg looks to break Scotland’s try-scoring record.

In the pack, Jamie Bhatti earns his first Scotland start since August 2019 alongside George Turner while Scott Cummings, Hamish Watson and Josh Bayliss are also handed starts.

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Duhan Van Der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price; 1 Jamie Bhatti, 2 George Turner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 4 Scott Cummings, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 7 Hamish Watson, 8 Josh Bayliss

Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Dylan Richardson, 21 Matt Fagerson, 22 George Horne, 23 Blair Kinghorn

Japan: 15. Ryohei Yamanka, 14. Kotaro Matsushima, 13. Shogo Nakano, 12. Ryoto Nakamura, 11. Siosaia Fifita, 10. Rikiya Matsuda, 9. Yutaka Nagare; 1. Craig Millar, 2. Atsushi Sakate, 3. Asaeli Ai Valu, 4. Jack Cornelsen, 5. James Moore, 6. Michael Leitch, 7. Pieter Labuschagne (captain), 8. Kazuki Himeno

Replacements: 16. Kosuke Horikoshi, 17. Keita Inagaki, 18. Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 19. Ben Gunter, 20. Tevita Tatafu, 21. Naoto Saito, 22. Yu Tamura, 23. Dylan Riley

ENGLAND V SOUTH AFRICA – Twickenham, KO 3.15pm (GMT) Saturday

A replay of the 2019 Rugby World Cup final will bring the curtain down on England’s Autumn Nations Series campaign as Eddie Jones’ men welcome South Africa to Twickenham.

Just over two years since losing out to the Springboks in Japan, England will have revenge on the mind when they renew their rivalry with the formidable reigning world champions.

England’s team looks a lot different to the one that started their last meeting with the Boks, with Marcus Smith starting once again at No.10 in the absence of the injured Owen Farrell.

Joe Marchant comes in on the wing as Manu Tuilagi switches to inside centre, with Bevan Road and Jamie Blamire forming a new-look front row partnership with Kyle Sinckler.

England: 15. Freddie Steward, 14. Joe Marchant, 13. Henry Slade, 12. Manu Tuilagi, 11. Jonny May, 10. Marcus Smith, 9. Ben Youngs; 1. Bevan Rodd, 2. Jamie Blamire, 3. Kyle Sinckler, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Courtney Lawes (C), 7. Sam Underhill, 8. Tom Curry

Replacements: 16. Nic Dolly, 17. Joe Marler, 18. Will Stuart, 19. Charlie Ewels, 20. Sam Simmonds, 21. Alex Dombrandt, 22. Raffi Quirke, 23. Max Malins

South Africa: 15. Willie le Roux, 14. Jesse Kriel, 13. Lukhanyo Am, 12. Damian de Allende, 11, Makazole Mapimpi, 10. Handré Pollard, 9. Cobus Reinach, 1. Ox Nché, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 5. Lood de Jager, 6. Siya Kolisi (C), 7. Kwagga Smith, 8. Duane Vermeulen

Replacements: 16. Malcolm Marx, 17. Steven Kitshoff, 18. Vincent Koch, 19. Franco Mostert, 20. Jasper Wiese, 21. Herschel Jantjies, 22. Elton Jantjies, 23. Frans Steyn

WALES V AUSTRALIA – Principality Stadium, 5.30pm (GMT) Saturday

Wales welcome Australia to Principality Stadium for their final game of the Autumn Nations Series as they look to make it three wins on the bounce against the Wallabies.

The Guinness Six Nations champions last played Australia in the 2019 World Cup, winning 29-25, while they also came out on top last time they visited Cardiff in 2018 (9-6).

Wayne Pivac’s side defeated Fiji last time out and the Wales head coach as made several changes to his starting line-up, with Aaron Wainwright returning at No.8.

Seb Davies gets his first start of the campaign alongside Adam Beard while Ryan Elias has new props either side of him as Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis come into the Welsh tight five.

Tomos Williams returns to partner Dan Biggar in the half-backs and Uilisi Halaholo starts in the centres alongside Nick Tompkins, with Josh Adams back on the wing.

Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Uilisi Halaholo, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tomos Williams; 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Adam Beard, 5 Seb Davies, 6 Ellis Jenkins (captain), 7 Taine Basham, 8 Aaron Wainwright

Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Ben Carter, 20 Christ Tshiunza, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Johnny McNicholl

Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nic Wright; 1 James Slipper (c), 2 Tolu Latu, 3 Taniela Tupou, 4 Rory Arnold, 5 Izack Rodda, 6 Rob Leota, 7 Pete Samu, 8 Rob Valetini

Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Lachlan Swinton, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Tom Wright

FRANCE V NEW ZEALAND – Stade de France, KO 8pm (GMT) Saturday

All eyes will be on a blockbuster finale to Saturday’s action in Paris, where France welcome New Zealand for the chance to end their Autumn Nations Series with three wins from three.

Fabien Galthié has decided against the dual playmaker combination of Romain Ntamack and Matthieu Jalibert for a third successive Test, with the latter dropping to the bench.

Six-try France overcome dogged Georgia

Hooker Peato Mauvaka comes in for the injured Julien Marchand, having scored three tries off the bench over the last two Tests, while François Cros returns to the starting line-up at No.6.

The other two changes from the team that beat Georgia last time out see the return of Paul Willemse in the second row and Gabin Villière on the wing.

France: 15. Melvyn Jaminet, 14. Damian Penaud, 13. Gaël Fickou, 12. Jonathan Danty, 11. Gabin Villière, 10. Romain Ntamack, 9. Antoine Dupont (c), 1. Cyril Baille, 2. Peato Mauvaka, 3. Uini Atonio, 4. Cameron Woki, 5. Paul Willemse, 6. François Cros, 7. Anthony Jelonch, 8. Grégory Alldritt

Replacements: 16. Gaëtan Barlot, 17. Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18. Demba Bamba, 19. Romain Taofifenua, 20. Thibaud Flament, 21. Dylan Cretin, 22. Maxime Lucu, 23. Matthieu Jalibert

New Zealand: 15. Jordie Barrett, 14. Will Jordan, 13. Rieko Ioane, 12. Quinn Tupaea, 11. George Bridge, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 9. Aaron Smith; 1. Joe Moody, 2. Dane Coles, 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. Samuel Whitelock ©, 6. Akira Ioane, 7. Sam Cane, 8. Ardie Savea

Replacements: 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17. George Bower, 18. Ofa Tuungafasi, 19. Tupou Vaa’I, 20. Shannon Frizell, 21. Brad Weber, 22. Damian McKenzie, 23. David Havili

IRELAND V ARGENTINA – Aviva Stadium, KO 2.15pm (GMT) Sunday

A little over a week on from that stunning win over the All Blacks, Ireland host Argentina in their final game of the Autumn Nations Series as they look to complete a perfect November.

Andy Farrell has named the same pack that performed so well against New Zealand last time out but has made a few changes to the backline, bringing Robbie Henshaw into the midfield after the centre recovered from the foot injury he sustained in pre-season.

In the absence of injured captain Johnny Sexton, James Ryan is named skipper while Joey Carbery takes the No.10 shirt after slotting three nerveless penalties from the bench against the All Blacks.

The only other change to the backline sees Robert Baloucoune, who made his Ireland debut against the USA in July, come in on the right wing for his second start.

Ireland: 15. Hugo Keenan, 14. Robert Baloucoune, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. James Lowe, 10. Joey Carbery, 9. Conor Murray; 1. Andrew Porter, 2. Ronan Kelleher, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Iain Henderson, 5. James Ryan (captain), 6. Caelan Doris, 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. Jack Conan

Replacements: 16. Dan Sheehan, 17. Cian Healy, 18. Tom O’Toole, 19. Tadhg Beirne, 20. Peter O’Mahony, 21. Craig Casey, 22. Harry Byrne, 23. Keith Earls

Argentina: 15. Emiliano Boffelli, 14. Mateo Carreras, 13. Matías Moroni, 12. Jerónimo De La Fuente, 11. Lucio Cinti, 10. Santiago Carreras, 9. Tomás Cubelli; 1. Thomas Gallo, 2. Julián Montoya (captain), 3. Francisco Gomez Kodela, 4. Guido Petti, 5. Tomás Lavanini, 6. Santiago Grondona, 7. Marcos Kremer, 8. Pablo Matera

Replacements: 16. Facundo Bosch, 17. Ignacio Calles, 18. Eduardo Bello, 19. Lucas Paulos, 20. Isa Facundo, 21. Gonzalo Bertranou, 22. Nicolás Sanchez, 23. Facundo Lamb