International stars look to sign off in style for clubs

The final weekend of club action before the Autumn Nations Series provides an opportunity for players to stake one last claim for international inclusion.

The final weekend of club action before the Autumn Nations Series provides an opportunity for players to stake one last claim for international inclusion.

Next weekend, Wales will play host to New Zealand while Scotland take on Tonga in the first round of matches.

So now that every country has named their squad for November, here is a look at some of the big questions going into the last weekend of domestic action.

Who can shine in Warriors-Leinster clash?

It is a big weekend for the Scotland players who ply their trade at home, with Gregor Townsend set to be without his Gallagher Premiership and Top 14 players next week.

As a result, Glasgow Warriors’ game against Leinster has even more on the line with Lions pair Zander Fagerson and Ali Price set for their first starts of the season.

Just as intriguing could be the midfield pairing of Sam Johnson and the uncapped Sione Tuipulotu, going up against Ciaran Frawley and Garry Ringrose, both of whom were named in Andy Farrell’s Ireland squad this week.

And staying in Scotland, the absence of Finn Russell and Adam Hastings next week makes Blair Kinghorn’s inclusion at fly-half for Edinburgh against Zebre even more noteworthy with international ramifications.

From an Irish perspective, Peter O’Mahony and Tadhg Beirne start together in the back row for Munster against the Ospreys, while Iain Henderson is back to captain Ulster at the Aviva Stadium against Connacht.

Captaincy auditions in France

Fabien Galthié named a 42-man squad for France without too many surprises, but one big question remains over who will lead Les Bleus in the absence of Charles Ollivon.

Five men are in the frame, Toulouse trio Antoine Dupont, Anthony Jelonch and Julien Marchand, as well as La Rochelle’s Grégory Alldritt and Racing 92’s Gaël Fickou.

For the Toulouse contingent, there is a huge game this weekend as they play host to local rivals Castres in a derby where bragging rights are everything. That is even more the case with last season’s double winners about to lose ten players to France duty from next week.

Fickou, meanwhile, looks set to be absent for Racing’s intriguing battle with Montpellier, but Alldritt should be a key man for La Rochelle on Sunday as they host struggling Toulon before heading off for international duty.

England contingent in action for Tigers

It has been a while since Leicester Tigers had the largest contingent in a full-strength England squad, but under the stewardship of Steve Borthwick, the Premiership giants have started the season like a house on fire.

With five wins from five, they lead the table ahead of a tricky clash with Sale, and five of their number were named by Eddie Jones this week.

That includes the experience of Ben Youngs and skipper Ellis Genge, both of whom start against the Sharks, as does promising young full-back Freddie Steward. With Nic Dolly and George Martin both named on the bench, it is a full house of England Tigers in the matchday squad.

But Sale, even without Faf de Klerk or new England call-up Raffi Quirke, will be out to end that winning start, with Tom Curry starting in the back row and Springbok lock Lood de Jager also back.