NatWest 6 Nations team-mates go head to head in domestic leagues

There’s another big weekend in store in across the European leagues as plenty of team-mates from the 2018 NatWest Six Nations prepare to face each other.

There’s another big weekend in store in across the European leagues as plenty of team-mates from the 2018 NatWest Six Nations prepare to face each other.

Seven local derbies take place in the final round of the Guinness PRO14 on Saturday, with Edinburgh and Glasgow closing out Saturday’s action at Murrayfield.

A mouth-watering West Country derby also awaits in the Aviva Premiership as Bath Rugby travel to bitter rivals Gloucester in the penultimate round of the regular season.

PRO14 derby day

Scotland internationals Stuart Hogg and Blair Kinghorn will come face-to-face in one of the key battles of the Guinness PRO14 between Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh.

Kinghorn has enjoyed a breakthrough season at club and international level, making his first start for Scotland alongside his rival on Saturday night against Ireland in the 2018 Championship.

“He is great boy who works incredibly hard on his game,” Hogg previously said of Kinghorn. “You have seen over the last few years how he has got better and better.

“He is keeping me on my toes and I have to work incredibly hard here to make sure I am still involved in Scotland stuff.”

Judgement Day

There are also plenty of Welsh internationals on show as Dragons welcome Scarlets to the Principality Stadium, with hooker Elliot Dee captaining the hosts for the first time.

Scarlets have named a strong side to ensure their place in the Guinness PRO14 Final Series on Judgement Day, including no less than ten internationals in the starting XV.

Leigh Halfpenny is one of those included as the full-back faces Welsh team-mate Hallam Amos following his return from sevens duty at the Commonwealth Games.

Elsewhere, Iain Henderson is back in the second-row for Ulster for the Irish derby against Munster, with Grand Slam-winning captain Rory Best also returning to the side as hooker.

Ulster retain a slim chance of qualification for the Pro14 play-offs with a win, but Munster’s Ireland internationals JJ Hanrahan and Darren Sweetnam may have something to say about that.

Italy team-mates will also have to put their friendships to one side when Benetton and Zebre clash at Stadio Monigo, with two stars of the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations, Tommaso Allan and Matteo Minozzi on opposing sides.

Vunipola boost for England

England will be happy to see Billy Vunipola back this weekend as he is set to make his return from injury when Saracens face London Irish in the Premiership on Sunday.

Vunipola has been out since breaking his arm during a Champions Cup game against the Ospreys three months ago, and missed England’s entire NatWest 6 Nations campaign.

However, the 25-year-old is among the replacements for the penultimate round clash at the Madejski Stadium, giving a huge boost to Eddie Jones and his club for the Premiership run-in.

England duo Jamie George and Maro Itoje also come back into the pack, with Welsh international Liam Williams moving back to the wing as Alex Goode is reinstated at full-back.

Northampton Saints will welcome back another Red Rose international in the shape of Luther Burrell, who will line-up against England team-mates Joe Launchbury and Elliot Daly.

The visitors will be looking for a first win in Coventry, having last won on Wasps’ soil in 2013.

Penultimate weekend in France

In France, Mathieu Bastareaud will be looking to lead Toulon to victory over Castres and all-but mathematically secure a spot in the Top 14 play-offs.

Racing 92, fresh from their European semi-final victory over Munster,  face Bordeaux-Begles on Sunday as they look to strengthen their case for a top-four finish.

Louis Picamoles starts for Montpellier against Pau while Rémy Grosso lines up on the wing for Clermont against Agen.