Ireland will have to do without James Ryan and Ryan Baird in their crunch Six Nations showdown with Scotland on Saturday.

Ryan was unable to return to the field after he was floored by a dangerous tackle from Charlie Ewels only 82 seconds into Ireland's 32-15 win over England at Twickenham last weekend.

Ewels was shown a red card for clashing heads with Ryan, who failed a subsequent head injury assessment.

Lock Ryan will not be available when Andy Farrell's side do battle with Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on the final day of the tournament.

Fellow second row Baird also missed the encounter in Dublin due to a back injury, so Ross Molony and Joe McCarthy have been called up to train with the squad.

Second-placed Ireland are two points adrift of leaders France and must win to keep their hopes of winning the title alive, with Les Bleus facing England in Paris later in the day.

 

Jack Willis has been included in England's squad for the first time in over a year for Saturday's Six Nations clash with France.

The flanker suffered a serious knee injury against Italy in February last year and only returned to action for Wasps last month.

With Tom Curry ruled out of the contest at Stade de France with a hamstring problem sustained in the 32-15 defeat to Ireland, Willis has a chance of featuring.

Kyle Sinckler was also part of the 34-player squad named by Eddie Jones on Monday and will follow return-to-play protocols after being concussed against Ireland.

England are out of contention for the Six Nations title ahead of their final match of this year's tournament after winning two and losing two of their first four games.

Opponents France are top of the standings as they seek a first title and first Grand Slam since 2010.

England players described their pride even in defeat to Ireland on Saturday after playing more than 78 minutes of the Six Nations match with 14 men.

The Red Rose's championship hopes were ended by the 32-15 reverse at Twickenham – their heaviest ever home Test loss to Ireland – but few fans had any issues with the team's fight and desire.

Charlie Ewels was shown a red card after just a minute and 22 seconds for his dangerous tackle on James Ryan – the earliest dismissal in a Six Nations match – giving England a huge uphill battle.

Eddie Jones' men still might have upset title-chasing Ireland, who were all square at 15-15 heading into the closing stages before taking the match away from their hosts.

Rather than rue their failure to take their championship challenge to Grand Slam candidates France for their fifth and final game, England's battlers preferred to reflect upon a heroic effort.

Hooker Jamie George said: "Right up to that last try, I genuinely had belief, and I think that says a huge amount about the character we have in the squad.

"This sounds ridiculous but it's one of the proudest days I've had in an England shirt. I genuinely feel that. I feel quite emotional from this game and the feedback we had from the crowd.

"Playing a team like Ireland, they're respected as one of the best teams in the world. To play like that with 14 men for 78 minutes takes some doing, and I'm proud to be part of the group."

Full-back Freddie Steward suggested this performance should set the standard for England sides moving forward.

"You come into a game, and you never expect that to happen," he told BBC Radio 5 Live. "The boys responded really well.

"It would have been easy for us to lose a man and for heads to drop and them to walk all over us. I think that shows the spirit of this team. We fought, we dug in, the boys gave it everything. There's a lot to learn from that."

Steward added: "We sat in at half-time and we had a genuine belief that we could go and win the game. The boys came out in that second half and wanted to do it, we wanted to do it.

"Unfortunately, on 60, 70 minutes, we ran out of steam at the end there.

"But I think this team is one that is not going to give up. We're not going to not fight, and we went to the trenches for each other today."

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said he was "delighted" with his team's hard-fought Six Nations win against Italy in Rome on Saturday.

Chris Harris scored a first-half double as Scotland beat the Azzurri 33-22 in an entertaining encounter at the Stadio Olimpico, recovering from back-to-back defeats at the hands of Wales and France.

The victory not only secured the Cuttitta Trophy but also moved Scotland above Wales into fourth place as the visitors ran in five tries in Italy.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland after the game, Townsend said he was happy with the win, but also reserved praise for Kieran Crowley's team, who scored 22 points for the first time since also doing so against France in 2020's tournament.

"We're delighted with the win, it's been a tough venue for Scottish teams for a number of years," said Townsend.

"I felt we built the victory in the first half and the players played really well up to around the 50-minute mark. After that, we weren't as good. I have to say that's the best I've seen Italy play over the last couple of seasons.

"Maybe we expected them to crack but you have to be accurate and keep the intensity up against all opposition if you want a complete performance. That's a frustration but all credit to Italy, they were the better team in the last quarter of the game.

"It's hard when Italy come at you. I've been there as a player and a coach when we've allowed Italy to get into the game. We didn't do that today. We managed the game really well and executed at times. We just need to do that for 80 minutes."

Scotland have now won each of their past seven matches against Italy in the Six Nations, with six of those seven victories coming by 10 or more points.

Sam Johnson scored the opening try for Scotland before Harris crossed twice, with Darcy Graham and Stuart Hogg getting one each after the break.

Callum Braley grabbed his first international try for Italy in the first half, and Ange Capuozzo also scored a double on debut.

Italy's Michele Lamaro bemoaned costly errors from his team, saying after the loss: "It's tough, we have to learn from this.

"Today, Scotland knew how to put pressure on at the breakdown. In that area, they have got players who are very capable and we really struggled all game. Against Wales, it will probably be a similar situation. We will have to work hard on it this week."

Italy have lost their past 36 games in the Six Nations, the longest losing run by any nation in the competition's This was their narrowest loss in the Six Nations since losing by 11 against France in 2019.

Scotland beat 40 defenders in the win, just the sixth time any side has beaten 40 or more in a Six Nations game and just the second time any nation has managed it away from home, after France who beat 55 in Italy in 2017.

Charlie Ewels was sent off after only 82 seconds as Ireland secured a 32-15 bonus-point victory at Twickenham to stay in the hunt to win the Six Nations and end heroic England's hopes of claiming the title.

Ewels was shown the earliest red card in championship history for a dangerous tackle on James Ryan and it looked like the Red Rose would be in for a painful evening when James Lowe crossed early on.

Yet Eddie Jones' side, roared on by a raucous crowd, produced an inspired display despite being a man down, only trailing 15-9 at half-time in an absorbing contest following three Marcus Smith penalties and a Hugo Keenan try for the visitors.

Smith's fourth and fifth penalties brought a spirited England level, but a Johnny Sexton penalty 15 minutes from time put Ireland back in front before late tries from Jack Conan and Finlay Bealham sealed a victory that moved Andy Farrell's men two points adrift of leaders France.

Ireland are at home to Scotland in their last match of the tournament next Saturday and will be hoping for a favour from England when they do battle with Les Bleus in Paris. 

Ewels' participation was over soon after it started, with referee Mathieu Raynal giving the lock his marching orders after he clashed heads with Ryan attempting a tackle.

With a dazed Ryan unable to continue, Sexton slotted over the resulting penalty and Lowe raced down the left to score the opening try in a dramatic start after taking a pass from Josh van der Flier.

Caelan Doris had a try ruled out due to a Garry Ringrose knock-on and Tom Curry limped off before England started to dictate the game despite being a man down, Smith reducing the deficit with two penalties and also missing one.

The Red Rose pack dominated – wing Jack Nowell playing his part in the scrum – but Jamison Gibson-Park's quick free-kick opened the door for Keenan to crash over before Smith's third penalty on the stroke of half-time made it 15-9.

There was another blow for England when Kyle Sinckler failed a head injury assessment at half-time, Will Stuart replacing him, but another Smith penalty left them only three points down.

Fly-half Smith brought them level midway through the second half with another penalty won in a ferocious scrum, but Sexton booted Ireland back into the lead and converted after Conan crashed over from close range after 71 minutes.

Bealham added insult to injury as the pressure told on weary England late on, barging over in the corner and Sexton took his points tally with the boot to 12 by adding the extras.

Ewels gives England a mountain to climb

After a huge build-up to what Eddie Jones had billed as a semi-final, losing Ewels right at the start meant England were always going to be up against it.

Although there was no malice in his tackle on Ryan, French official Raynal felt he had no option but to dismiss the England man. The Red Rose, driven on by a powerful pack, showed great character to make a brilliant game of it and the scoreline did not tell the full story.

Gibson-Park makes Ireland tick

This was certainly not a vintage Ireland performance as they made far too many errors and showed indiscipline, but they looked dangerous every time they attacked and were ruthless as England tired.

Gibson-Park made them tick and has been a revelation at scrum-half, making 59 passes and setting up a try for Keenan that came at an important time late in the first half.

What's next?

Ireland take on Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in the second game of the final weekend before England do battle with Les Bleus in a decisive last match in Paris.

Chris Harris scored a first-half double as Scotland beat Italy 33-22 in an entertaining Six Nations encounter at the Stadio Olimpico.

Smarting from defeats at the hands of Wales and France, Gregor Townsend's side ran in five tries to win the Cuttitta Trophy in Rome on Saturday and move above Wales into fourth place.

Sam Johnson scored the opening try before Harris crossed twice, with Darcy Graham and Stuart Hogg getting in on the act after the break.

Callum Braley went in for a first international try in the first half and Ange Capuozzo scored a debut double, but the Azzurri's losing Six Nations run was extended to 36 matches on the penultimate weekend of the tournament.

Paolo Garbisi's penalty gave Italy an early lead, but Scotland were in front when Johnson finished in the right corner after George Turner had powered down the other flank to put Italy on the back foot.

Ali Price was the architect for a second try on the break after 21 minutes, intercepting Braley's pass deep inside his own half and bursting forward before whipping a pass out to Kyle Steyn, whose clever kick over the top enabled Harris to touch down.

Finn Russell added the extras, but Italy cut the gap to only two points after Pierre Bruno's brilliant offload on the touchline in the right corner put a try on a plate for Braley and Garbisi sent an excellent conversion between the posts.

Italy's joy was short-lived, though, as Harris surged over for his second score late in the first half to round off a well-executed Scotland move.

Graham showed pace and power when racing through the middle to reward more Scotland pressure with another try early in the second half and Hogg darted over in the left corner after taking a fine pass from the impressive Price.

Russell expertly converted from wide on the left for a fourth time and the points continued to come, with Capuozzo wriggling his way over twice in a promising cameo off the bench, but Scotland were comfortable winners.

Italy pay the Price

Scrum-half Price was outstanding as he made Scotland tick before he was replaced late on.

The number nine showed great awareness for the interception that led to Harris' opening try and threw a great pass for Hogg to score, pulling the strings in a lively display.

Clinical Harris

Harris was on hand to help himself to a brace, firstly showing great speed to get on the end of Steyn's well-weighted kick over the top and then running a great line for his second score.

What's next?

Scotland end their campaign with a trip to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday, when Italy take on Wales in Cardiff.

Fabien Galthie says France are in the "dream scenario" as they stand on the brink of a Grand Slam but knows the Six Nations leaders face a massive test against England.

Anthony Jelonch scored the only try of an almighty battle with Wales at the Principality Stadium, where Les Bleus won 13-9 on Friday to maintain their 100 per cent record.

France defended magnificently to keep the holders at bay in Cardiff and have a first title since 2010 in their sights.

England will arrive at Stade de France determined to spoil the party and can also be crowned champions with a win in the French capital if they beat Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.

France head coach Galthie sees his side as a work in progress and is prepared for a tense evening in Paris.

"The dream scenario is to win the games, Four wins after four rounds, that was our ambition. We have learned from the past, this is still a team in progress," said Galthie.

"We have managed to balance things in this competition in terms of our efforts. Four wins, that is what you dream of. Now we will turn our attention to the final match against England.

“It’s England, the finalists from the last World Cup, a huge rugby nation. We can't make a mistake about our opponent.

"We have to start the preparation in a pleasant way, while enjoying this [win over Wales] and this weekend. We will flip on Monday and prepare with our method and our conviction. There will be a match to play, as always."

It was not pretty as France dug in to defeat Wales and Galthie was delighted with the way they went about their business.

He added: "The key is to win, differently, agreed, but it's good to win. The winning streak is the hardest thing to do, especially here against a very good tactical side.

"We had a week with the players suffering from the flu and we were hit by Covid. Despite a number of players missing time, the team came and got the win and that is important.

"We won five turnovers at the breakdown, while being disciplined and conceding just eight penalties. The know-how of our defensive line, with big tackles, good entries into the rucks and playing the ball, that's a box that is ticked by the players collectively and individually."

France captain Antoine Dupont said his side are embracing the spotlight surrounding next Saturday's fixture against England to complete the Six Nations Grand Slam.

Les Blues have only completed the Grand Slam once since 2004 – in 2010 – while more recently Ireland achieved the feat in 2018, followed by Wales in 2019.
 
After beating Wales 13-9, Dupont spoke about the strength of the French defence and its ability to win tough contests, before looking forward to the big clash against England.
 
"We felt that we could count on our defense," he said. "They often came to our camp with our faults and their long kicking game. 
 
"We were able to cope, and it's something that has carried us for several matches – we have to continue on that. 

"It wasn't the most beautiful match we've had to watch, but you have to know how to win like that too. 
 
"We try to turn this pressure into motivation – we said we wanted to have the cards in hand for the last match, it's done. 
 
"We will be able to devote ourselves fully to it and we hope that it will work. The party tonight is going to be very light. We're going to wait a week and hope to be able to party.
 
"In the dressing room, there was a mix of emotions, joy and pride intertwined, but with the England game in the back of my mind. 
 
"We're going to enjoy tonight, but we're all looking forward to Saturday night [against England]. 
 
"The Grand Slam? From now on, we can talk about it. 
 
"It's going to be on everyone's lips and in the media this week. It's up to us to make sure we win this match, and we know what will come of it."

England are still in contention to win the Six Nations, but they must beat Ireland in Saturday's clash at Twickenham.

Dan Biggar said Wales paid a high price for falling short at key moments after failing to halt mighty France in Cardiff.

A Six Nations Grand Slam is now within touching distance for Les Bleus after they overcame last year's champions 13-9 at the Principality Stadium, making it four wins from four.

Wales fought hard but rarely threatened a try, Jonathan Davies dropping the ball on the one occasion they looked like perhaps going over.

There was plenty to admire about the Welsh display, but Anthony Jelonch's early try was ultimately the difference between the sides.

In terms of metres carried, Wales edged France 353 to 284, and they were 156-96 ahead on the passes count, but France's defence was outstanding, and the hosts made too many errors.

Home captain Biggar told BBC One the outcome was "ultimately very, very disappointing".

He added: "This week I thought we were the better team for large periods of the game, and one or two big moments is what big Test matches hinge on, and we didn't quite nail those moments, and we paid the price.

"I'm so proud of the lads in terms of how well they stuck to it against probably the form team in world rugby at the minute, so we're really, really pleased with the effort.

"That's a bit more like us in terms of the attitude and probably something we didn't quite show in the first half against England and Ireland."

Wales have now lost three of their four games and wrap up their campaign against Italy next week, when they should get a second win of their campaign.

Biggar said the positivity behind his team's display made him "really, really pleased".

"But ultimately when you play against big teams and good teams in tight Test matches, one or two moments decide it," he said, "and we didn't quite come on the right side of them."

France lock Paul Willemse said the 13-9 win at Wales' Principality Stadium was the hard-fought slog that Les Bleus always expected.

The contest featured only three points in the second half, and a scoreless last half-hour after Melvin Jaminet's penalty in the 46th minute gave France their eventual winning margin.

The win moved France further clear atop the Six Nations standings, sporting a near two-to-one points ratio after scoring 116 and conceding 60 in the first four fixtures.

They have a 100 per cent record through four games, with a possible Grand Slam looming ahead of England's visit to the Stade de France next week.

Speaking to BBC One post-match, Willemse said: "We prepared during the week knowing this was going to be one of the toughest games in the season.

"We're really happy with the result even though it wasn't a clean match, but it's expected against a team like Wales.

"[We have to work on] the basic stuff. Discipline, being more secure getting out of our half, because they kept us in there for a long time.

"Definitely a lot of things to work on next week, and for sure we'll be doing that."

 ??? ?'??? ???? !
Les Bleus s'imposent ce soir à Cardiff et remportent une 4e victoire dans ce #SixNations !

RENDEZ-VOUS ?????? ???????? au @StadeFrance ! #GALFRA #XVdeFrance #NeFaisonsXV pic.twitter.com/KpUlizFNsE

— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) March 11, 2022

While he acknowledged some of his side's shortcomings, the big Frenchman was full of praise for their character and chemistry.

"You see it on the field, you see it during the week's training, you see it after the games," Willemse said.

"This is a really amazing and incredible team to be a part of, and I'm really grateful to be a part of it because I think we can do big things."

France last completed a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2010, also the year of their last title in the competition.

The pre-tournament favourites are living up to their billing so far this year, and team manager Raphael Ibanez highlighted the rugged nature of the Wales clash, pinning the win on his side’s defensive efforts.

"I think it was a very tense game – it was a fierce battle, with many mistakes of course," Ibanez told BBC One.

"We were under pressure, especially in the second half. Wales had a great kicking game, but winning that game, it's a great opportunity for next week.

"Sometimes at the international stage you can't play fantastic rugby every weekend, you just have to be smart in the right areas, making sure your set-piece is working well and your discipline as well.

"I think our defence was outstanding, and that's what won us the game."

France will go for Grand Slam glory next week after resisting a determined effort from Wales to snatch a huge 13-9 win in Cardiff.

Coach Fabien Galthie's team were pushed hard by last season's Six Nations champions, and it was their tenacity more than their flowing rugby that secured the French victory.

The only try of the contest came from Anthony Jelonch in the first half, with Wales unable to breach their opponents' line.

It means France will welcome England to the Stade de France in eight days' time for 'Le Crunch', with a first Grand Slam since 2010 in their sights.

France snatched a third-minute lead through Melvyn Jaminet's penalty after an infringement by Josh Navidi, but Wales were swiftly back on terms when captain Dan Biggar drilled a confident reply.

Jelonch's second international try arrived in the ninth minute as France's snappy running rugby brought early reward, with the flanker the man to dash in on the left wing.

Jaminet booted the extras, and Wales, who lost Tomos Williams to an early injury, struggled to contain the blue shirts for a spell, until a Biggar penalty closed the gap.

With 10 wins in their last 11 Six Nations games at the Principality Stadium, Wales were not giving this up early and began to impose pressure on the French try-line.

The hosts lost Gareth Thomas to a head blow and were twice penalised after getting close to the French posts.

But Wales' luck changed with the award of a penalty in front, which Biggar drove through the uprights to snip France's lead to one point at the break.

Jaminet nudged France into a four-point lead once more with another penalty, but the game remained in the balance, the vaunted visitors struggling to put it away.

Jonathan Davies fumbled as Wales looked to go for the line down the left, but still the home side kept pressing.

Jaminet missed a late chance to boost France's lead when his long-range kick drifted wide, but Wales could not take advantage of that let-off.

England are "really optimistic" Maro Itoje will be fit for Saturday's Six Nations showdown with Ireland.

The British and Irish Lions lock has been struggling with illness ahead of the round four clash at Twickenham.

Red Rose forwards coach Matt Proudfoot provided an encouraging update on Itoje on the eve of the game.

He said: "Maro was a little sick overnight so we're just giving him an opportunity to recover, but we're really optimistic he’ll be alright."

England prop Kyle Sinckler recovered from a back injury and will start against second-placed Ireland.

"Kyle fully trained. He had a great training session and looked really good," Proudfoot said.

England and Ireland have won two and lost one of their three matches ahead of a huge encounter in London.

Proudfoot says Eddie Jones' side are in great shape as they battle to win the title.

"For us it's a great opportunity to go after them. The team has trained really, really well and every week it’s got more and more competitive," he said.

"The preparation has been great and when they walked off the field today (Friday), you could see the confidence in the eyes of the players.

"We know we've got to go after them. Ireland have been together for a big part of the year because of their large Leinster contingent, so we know they have that as an advantage, but we're eager for the opportunity.

"It tends to be the deeper you go into the Six Nations, it gets more and more intense. This is probably going to be the most intense game we've played since the Springboks."

France are rolling towards a possible Grand Slam as they arrive in Cardiff for game four in their Six Nations mission, but Fabien Galthie's team must not switch off now.

The championship may yet see a France versus England title decider at the Stade de France next weekend, but whether 'Le Crunch' proves crucial will hinge on results this time around.

A mighty Welsh effort in Cardiff could knock the French juggernaut off course, while Ireland will believe they can achieve a result at Twickenham.

Scotland and Italy, meanwhile, tussle in Rome. That was once typically a Wooden Spoon decider; this time, the Scots are heavy favourites.

Ahead of the fourth round of fixtures, Stats Perform previews each match with help from Opta.

WALES V FRANCE

FORM

Wales have lost each of their last two meetings with France in the Six Nations, after winning seven of their previous eight clashes in the championship. France's 27-23 win at the Principality Stadium two years ago was their first success in Cardiff in the competition since 2010, and France have not won back-to-back away games against Wales since reeling off four in a row from 2000 to 2006.

Wayne Pivac's Wales won at home against Scotland last month but have lost on the road to Ireland and England. The Welsh have pulled off 10 wins from their last 11 matches in Cardiff in the Six Nations, with France the only side to beat them during that sequence.

This France team are living up to their billing as pre-tournament favourites and have won their last six Test matches, their best run since also winning six on the bounce in 2006. They have not won more consecutive internationals since a run of eight in 2004, which included a victory in Cardiff.

ONES TO WATCH

Among players to hit 20 or more attacking rucks in this season's Six Nations, Wales' Ross Moriarty has the best ruck effectiveness rate, cleaning out the opposition or securing possession at 96 per cent of the attacking rucks he has hit (27 of 28). Moriarty is not a starter this week, as Pivac rings the changes, but will surely have a role to play off the bench.

France's Damian Penaud would have been a strong contender here, having beaten 10 defenders in this year's Six Nations, the joint most of any player alongside Scotland's Darcy Graham, with Penaud also achieving a championship-best tackle evasion rate of 77 per cent. Penaud is ruled out by a COVID-19 positive test, so can his fellow wings Yoram Moefana and Gabin Villiere prove as elusive?

 

ITALY V SCOTLAND

FORM

There was a time when Scotland dreaded facing Italy, but those days appear long gone. The Scots have won their last six matches against the Azzurri in the Six Nations, last losing at Murrayfield in 2015. Prior to this dominant era, Scotland had won nine and Italy had won seven of their first 16 clashes in the championship. The Scots have won their last four away games against Italy.

Italy's losing run in the competition has now reached a dismal 35 games, and that Murrayfield victory seven years ago was their last success. Kieran Crowley's team have failed to score a try in their last two Six Nations games, the first time this has happened for Italy since they went on a run of three games without a try in the 2009 championship.

Ali Price is set to win his 50th cap for Scotland. The Glasgow Warriors scrum-half has scored just one try in his seven appearances against Italy, although he has four try assists across his last two Tests against the Azzurri.

ONES TO WATCH

Michele Lamaro has made 59 tackles in this year's Six Nations, at least 13 more than any other player. That is the upside. The downside is that he has also missed the most tackles of any player (13); however, only one of those missed tackles led to a break, with the other 12 seeing the opposition player tackled by a team-mate.

By contrast, Scotland's Hamish Watson has made 31 tackles without missing one so far in this year's competition. Only Ireland's Caelan Doris has made more without missing (36/36). Watson has now made 180 tackles in the championship since his last miss, which came back in 2019 against England.

 

ENGLAND V IRELAND

FORM

England have tended to like this fixture of late, having won four of their last five home games against Ireland in the Six Nations. A 24-15 defeat in 2018 was the exception in this run which started in 2012. England have also won 22 of their last 25 home matches – taking all opponents into account – in the Six Nations (D1, L2).

Yet Ireland are the only side that England have a losing record against in the Six Nations era, winning just 45 per cent of their meetings in the championship (W10, L12).

Whoever leads at half-time seems nailed on for the win. None of the previous 22 Six Nations matches between England and Ireland have seen an interval deficit overturned to bring about a victory for the trailing team.

ONES TO WATCH

England's Marcus Smith is the leading points scorer so far in this year's championship. He has 48 points, meaning Smith is two shy of becoming the fifth different England player to notch up 50 points in an edition of the Six Nations (Jonny Wilkinson 7 times, Toby Flood once, Owen Farrell 6 times, George Ford once).

Ireland's Doris has been a 'nuisance' (slowing the opposition ball) at more rucks (7) than any other player in this year's tournament, Opta data shows.

Eddie Jones has told England to attack their clash with Ireland at Twickenham as though they are playing a tournament semi-final.

The hosts' Six Nations hopes rely on them beating Ireland, and both teams head into the game with two wins and a loss from their opening three games.

Head coach Jones has included Sam Simmonds at number eight for the big game in London, with Alex Dombrandt on the bench after recovering from COVID-19.

Courtney Lawes again skippers the team, with vice-captain Tom Curry fit to feature after recovering from a head injury sustained in the win against Wales last time out.

Joe Launchbury features in an England match squad for the first time since December 2020 after being named among the replacements.

Jones said: "We've been looking at this game as a semi-final. Ireland are the most cohesive side in the world right now and it will be a good test this weekend.

"We've prepared really well for this game. We did some good team togetherness work in Bristol and had a solid week of training on the pitch here.

"We are looking forward to going after them in front of a great home crowd at Twickenham."

England can look at the game in a semi-final sense because their last match in the championship will be a tussle with France, who have a 100 per cent record so far, in Paris.

That has the potential to be a title decider, although Andy Farrell's Ireland could undo England's hopes this weekend.

Ireland have made six changes to the side that beat Italy 57-6 last time out, with veteran fly-half Johnny Sexton restored to the starting XV as captain, taking the place of Joey Carbery.


England team: Steward, Malins, Marchant, Slade, Nowell, Smith, Randall; Genge, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Ewels, Lawes (captain), Curry, Simmonds.

Replacements: Blamire, Marler, Stuart, Launchbury, Dombrandt, Youngs, Ford, Daly.

Ireland team: Keenan, Conway, Ringrose, Aki, Lowe, Sexton (captain), Gibson-Park; Healy, Sheehan, Furlong, Beirne, Ryan, O'Mahony, Van der Flier, Doris.

Replacements: Herring, Kilcoyne, Bealham, Henderson, Conan, Murray, Carbery, Henshaw.

Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton will retire after the 2023 World Cup despite signing a new deal with Irish Rugby.

The 36-year-old, who earned his 100th cap in November and won the 2018 World Player of the Year, wants to go out on a high at next year's World Cup in France.

Irish Rugby confirmed on Tuesday that Sexton had signed a new contract up until the 2023 event but the 103-cap veteran said he would finish up after that.

“Yeah, finished, 2023 World Cup – it’s up to me to work hard, get the body and mind in the best shape possible and attack the last 18 months,” he said.

“I’m still very driven to get there and perform at the World Cup. I always said that if I am enjoying my rugby and the Ireland and Leinster set-ups believe I can add value to the environment then it would be an easy decision to sign another contract.

“There is some great talent coming through at Leinster at present and I am excited about the prospect of competing at a fourth World Cup with Ireland and the potential for growth in this group between now and then.”

Sexton has played 103 times for Ireland in his storied career and reached the milestone of 500 points in the Six Nations in the 29-7 win over the defending champions last month.

A four-time European Champions Cup winner with Leinster, Sexton is now looking ahead to the prospect of a fourth World Cup finals appearance in France next year.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.