Six Nations: Elliot Daly fit to face France while Eddie Jones reveals more fan abuse

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Elliot Daly is available for England’s Six Nations clash with France on Saturday after completing his recovery from ankle and calf problems.

The British and Irish Lions wing could make his first appearance of the tournament when the team’s ailing title defence resumes in Paris having proved his fitness during a training session at Twickenham on Saturday.

“Elliot trained very well and is definitely in contention for selection. He’s a very good player,” head coach Eddie Jones said.

Jones is expected to keep changes to a minimum when he names his team to face France on Thursday morning with Daly a possible replacement for Jonny May.

Nathan Hughes is set to continue at number eight having benefited from a further two weeks of training after making his comeback from a significant knee injury in the 25-13 defeat by Scotland.

“Nathan will definitely be better for the run against Scotland, he’s still a bit off the pace but is moving in the right direction,” Jones said.

Jones reiterated his decision to no longer use public transport having been verbally and physically abused over the two legs of his train journey from Edinburgh to London via Manchester on February 25.

Video footage of one incident filmed outside Manchester Oxford Road station has seen the Scottish fans who turned on the Australian after he had posed for a selfie widely condemned.

Eddie Jones, the England head coach, will be staying away from public transport.

Eddie Jones, the England head coach, will be staying away from public transport.

“I don’t think so (will have more security in place),” Jones told Sky Sports News.

“That was probably just a unique situation after quite a big build up to the game when a number of Scottish people said things.

“They had a great result and coming back on the train, there were a lot of people who were happy and that happiness boiled over into a bit more. In that situation, I wouldn’t go on a train again.

“In all honesty, I just got on with it. It’s part of the job and in my job you either get abused, you get slapped on the back and told how good you are or you get advice.

“It is always one of those three coming at you. The abuse isn’t nice, so you have to keep away from that.

“I’ve had that, so maybe I have had it for a couple of weeks and won’t get it for a while now.

“I have never wanted anything to be made of it. I didn’t bring it forward, I was just happy that it was finished. All I am worried about is coaching well against France.”

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Six Nations: two changes each team should make ahead of the final two rounds

Alex Broun 5/03/2018
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With just two rounds left in this year’s Six Nations the tournament looks Ireland’s to lose as the only undefeated team left.

Ireland face a rejuvenated Scotland in Dublin this weekend and they can claim the championship with a bonus-point victory, if England fail to do the same in Paris.

Here are changes that all the teams should consider to improve their chances as the competition reaches its pointy end:

England

The English back-row has been shown up to be cumbersome and lack mobility over the first three rounds and Eddie Jones simply can not persist with selecting three locks as well as Chris Robshaw. He needs someone quicker to the breakdown and providing a better link between the backs and forwards – so the returning Sam Simmonds needs to be in the starting XV.

Out wide George Ford seems to have lost confidence and penetration so Jones needs to look at going more direct, starting Ben Te’o at No12 and moving Owen Farrell to fly-half. The other option is a direct swap of Te’o for the underwhelming Jonathan Joseph. Fit-again Elliot Daly is also back in the mix on the wing, with Jonny May’s place under threat.

Louis Picamoles may return for France against England.

Louis Picamoles may return for France against England.

France

The “Edinburgh eight” may be considered again as France face England in Paris then Wales in Cardiff. It will be interesting to see which players Jacques Brunel chooses to recall from his exiled stars – if any – who were left out after some post-match shenanigans after the loss to Scotland.

Dangerous winger Teddy Thomas would definitely have come back into the starting line-up but he injured his ankle playing for Racing 92, while Louis Picamoles may struggle to unseat the impressive new No8 Marco Tauleigne who made 76 metres from 17 carries against Italy.

With Mathieu Bastareaud performing so well at outside centre there is choice to be made on who will partner him and Brunel may opt for the more experienced Gael Fickou rather than the direct Geoffrey Doumayrou.

Garry Ringrose is back just in time for Ireland

Garry Ringrose is back just in time for Ireland

Ireland

What has been most impressive for the tournament leaders to date is how their back-up players have stepped up. Prop Andrew Porter, flanker Dan Leavy and centre Chris Farrell all had big shoes to fill against Wales but were among Ireland’s best in Dublin. Farrell is now injured, but first-choice Garry Ringrose is now fit again so he will come straight back in.

Fly-half Johnny Sexton has been struggling with a back injury and as much as Joe Schmidt might like to rest him, he can’t take that chance against Scotland – so Sexton will start. The other change Schmidt should consider is starting John Ryan at tighthead. As impressive as Porter was against Wales, Ryan brings a little more experience which might be crucial against the Scots.

Nicola Quaglio made an impact against France

Nicola Quaglio made an impact against France

Italy

Wales legend Mike Phillips called for a return to the Five Nations on Sport360 this week and it’s hard to argue with that as the gap between Italy and the rest seems to get bigger, not smaller, each year. As the Azzurri continue to underwhelm coach Conor O’Shea is looking at his options – but none are much better than those already in the starting XV.

Sebastian Negri in the back row has been one of Italy’s bright spots, taking a load off the waning Sergio Parisse, but their real issue is up front where they desperately need some hard-edged tight five forwards.

Dean Budd could make way for George Biagi in the second row while loose-head Nicola Quaglio, who was busy after coming on against France, deserves to start instead of Andrea Lovotti.

Richie Gray should be recalled to the Scotland pack for Ireland

Richie Gray should be recalled to the Scotland pack for Ireland

Scotland

After their impressive win over England last-up Gregor Townsend has headaches of the right kind as his squad is bolstered by the return of five injured stars – Richie Gray, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Alex Dunbar and Darryl Marfo. The question is which of these does he bring into the starting line-up.

Their lineout has continued to improve since it fell apart against Wales in week one but Gray should still come back into the starting XV to shore up this facet of play. Fly-half Finn Russell was on his last chance against England but the 25-year-old produced when he needed it most – so expect him to hold his spot, but he may be partnered by livewire Ali Price rather than the safer Greig Laidlaw.

George North is an option at outside centre for Wales

George North is an option at outside centre for Wales

Wales

Warren Gatland could not hide his disappointment after the Dragons succumbed in Dublin. Wales have been near enough in their two losses against Ireland and England but they are just missing that touch of backline class or extra forward power that will get them over the line in a tough one.

George North is getting back to his best and although Gatland may not want to drop either of his wings – Liam Williams or Steff Evans – he could look at North slotting in at outside centre with Scott Williams moving to No12, which would certainly add some extra penetration to the Dragons backline.

The other change he should consider is Bradley Davies starting in the second row instead of Cory Hill. Davies is a far more damaging ball runner which is what Wales need more of in the tight five.

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Six Nations: Ireland and Scotland get fitness boosts ahead of Dubai showdown

Dan Owen 5/03/2018
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Tadhg Furlong is expected to be back in contention for Ireland at the weekend.

Ireland expect Tadhg Furlong and Iain Henderson to prove their fitness in time to face Scotland in Saturday’s Six Nations clash in Dublin.

The British and Irish Lions duo missed Ireland’s 37-27 win over Wales on February 24 and have since been battling to be fit for the Scotland encounter.

Despite missing the pair, Ireland were still able to record a bonus-point win over Wales, with Andrew Porter proving to be a more-than-able deputy at tighthead.

Ireland have racked up three straight wins in this year’s tournament and are now closing in on a third title in five years, and will be keen to avenge their loss at Murrayfield in the competition last year.

Meanwhile, fit-again Richie Gray has been added to the Scotland squad for the remainder of the Six Nations, the Scottish Rugby Union has announced.

The experienced second-row forward returns from long-term back and calf injuries to be named in Gregor Townsend’s revised squad ahead of their final two fixtures against Ireland and Italy, with 10 players added in total.

Alex Dunbar, Zander Fagerson, Darryl Marfo and Fraser Brown are also recalled after injuries, while George Horne has been handed a first senior call-up.

Townsend will be hoping his side can follow-up on their back-to-back wins over France and England – with a win in Dublin throwing them right back in the mix for the Championship – especially with them set to face Italy on the final day of the campaign.

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