The final fallow weekend is behind us and we are now well and truly at the business end of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations.
Round 4 is likely to prove critical in the destination of this year’s Championship. Triple Crown winners Wales could move to within one game of a Grand Slam should they defeat Italy, who themselves are determined to get points on the board.
Then comes a heavyweight battle between England, smarting from defeat in Cardiff last time out, and a French side who will be gunning for revenge having narrowly lost the Autumn Nations Cup final on their last trip to Twickenham.
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Sunday sees Scotland host Ireland knowing a win is vital if they are to keep their own Championship ambitions on track.
Three cracking games to look forward to, then, and there will be plenty of intrigue surrounding this week’s team news.
With four squads announced on Thursday and two more on Friday, the end of the week will see supporters clock-watching as they wait to discover who will be playing for and against them this weekend.
Here’s when we’ll find out those all-important matchday 23s…
Wales are riding the crest of a wave having wrapped up the Triple Crown in style against England and Wayne Pivac wasted no time in naming his squad for the trip to Rome, making his announcement on Tuesday afternoon.
Hill and Davies start for Wales in Rome
“We are really looking forward to this weekend and are ready to get out there on Saturday,” said the Wales head coach
“Three from three is a great start but there has been plenty to do and plenty of work-ons.
On Thursday morning at 11am, Eddie Jones will name the England squad tasked with getting their campaign back on track against France.
The Red Rose have drafted in David Ribbans to replace his Northampton Saints teammate Courtney Lawes, who will sit out his side’s final two fixtures with a chest injury.
Ribbans is bidding for an England bow – as is 19-year-old flanker George Martin, who was an unused replacement against Wales as Jones’ side slipped to their second defeat in three games.
Just 15 minutes after the England announcement, Fabien Galthie will reveal which French players will be travelling across the Channel.
Romain Ntamack and Virimi Vakatawa could be in line for their first appearances of this season’s Guinness Six Nations having been named in Les Bleus’ 31-man squad, though Gabin Villiere misses out with a hand injury.
France have not won a Championship match at Twickenham since 2005 but will travel with confidence having ended a similar barren run in Dublin in Round 2.
A busy day of announcements concludes in the afternoon with Franco Smith naming his Italy squad to welcome Wales at 2pm.
Scrum-half Stephen Varney is back in training having sat out the defeat against Ireland following an injury in the warm-up and will battle it out with Callum Braley and in-form Zebre No.9 Marcello Violi for the right to start.
Daniele Rimpelli – who made his debut against France in Round 1 – has replaced the injured Cherif Traore to add to Smith’s options in the front row.
Friday at noon is when Ireland head coach Andy Farrell will face the media to run through his selections for their trip to BT Murrayfield.
The 45-year-old is able to call upon Jacob Stockdale for the first time in this campaign, the Ulster star having returned to Guinness PRO14 action in recent weeks and impressed sufficiently to be named in the 36-man squad preparing for Sunday’s contest.
Shane Daly drops out to accommodate the versatile back, while scrum-half – and Daly’s Munster teammate – Craig Casey will hope to build on his dazzling debut against Italy in Round 3.
Ireland do not have to wait long to find out who they will be up against in Edinburgh, with Gregor Townsend’s press conference getting underway at 1.30pm.
Townsend has called up Sam Skinner, Nick Haining and Rufus McLean to the squad gearing up for the clash but will be without lock Richie Gray due to a head injury.
McLean’s call-up is his first while Skinner, who scored a brace for Exeter Chiefs against Bath on Saturday, has 10 caps, three of which have been earned in the Championship.