With the first fallow weekend of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations done and dusted, anticipation is rising for the team announcements as Round 3 looms into view.
Wales and France are hoping to keep their Grand Slam hopes alive as they host England and Scotland respectively, while the action kicks off in Rome as Italy and Ireland look to get off the mark for the campaign.
Key to the build-up, as ever, will be finding out who will be taking to the field as the head coaches announce their matchday squads.
The coaching teams will have had the best part of a fortnight to consider their selections by the time the teams are made public and there are plenty of decision to make.
Here’s when we can expect to hear news of who has made the cut…
ENGLAND – (11am)
England’s trips to Cardiff are always eagerly anticipated and Saturday’s meeting is no different, with Eddie Jones’ men the latest to try and halt the hosts’ unbeaten start.
Jones has called versatile Leicester Tigers forward George Martin into his 28-man squad as a replacement for the injured Jack Willis and the 19-year-old will hope to do enough in training to force his way into contention for a debut.
The 10-12 axis of George Ford and Owen Farrell reunited for England’s win over Italy and it remains to be seen whether Jones will stick or twist in his backline when he names his team on Thursday morning.
An hour after England announce their line-up, Wales will reveal the identity of those who will be taking them on at Principality Stadium.
Wayne Pivac has the Championship’s in-form wing, Louis Rees-Zammit, at his disposal while his fellow speedster Josh Adams is back in contention having served his two-week ban.
Johnny Williams, Jonathan Davies, George North and Josh Navidi have also returned to training ahead of the crunch clash in Cardiff.
Andy Farrell’s men slipped to consecutive narrow defeats on the opening two weekends and bid to kickstart their campaign at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.
Farrell will name his team around 12pm on Thursday.
Henderson: Ireland’s experienced stars leading Italy charge
The dozen Irish players who featured in Guinness PRO14 action over the weekend came through unscathed while Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray and James Ryan will hope to feature having missed the Round 2 defeat at home to France.
The fourth team announcement of a busy Thursday will be made by Gregor Townsend, who names his Scotland side for the trip to Paris at 2.30pm.
Townsend will be without Zander Fagerson, who has been banned for four matches following his red card against Wales, but fly-half Adam Hastings has joined up with the squad as he returns from an injury lay-off.
Josh Bayliss, Jamie Dobie, Jamie Bhatti, Cornell du Preez, Rob Harley and Sam Johnson are also included in the training squad as Scotland look to bounce back from their home defeat to Wales.
Franco Smith will name his Italy squad on Thursday afternoon as they go in search of their first win over Ireland since 2013.
A host of Azzurri key men kept their match sharpness up by featuring for Benetton and Zebre in the Guinness PRO14 over the weekend and Smith will be choosing from a 33-man training squad.
Having placed his faith in youth to date, the South African seems unlikely to change tack as he builds for the future with a promising squad.
Two wins from two have kept France’s dreams of a first Grand Slam since 2010 alive and Les Bleus’ squad to welcome Scotland will be announced on Friday.
A number of positive Covid-19 tests have forced a reshuffle to the 31-man squad and scrum-half Maxime Lucu could be handed an international bow in the absence of Antoine Dupont.
Teddy Baubigny, Jonathan Danty and Yoram Moefana have also received call-ups as France go in search of victory in their first home match of this year’s Championship.