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When are the Autumn Nations Cup team announcements?

When are the Autumn Nations Cup team announcements?

When are the Autumn Nations Cup team announcements?

It all starts this weekend. The inaugural Autumn Nations Cup begins in style with four cracking contests from Friday through to Sunday as eight sides take the first steps on what they each hope will be the path to glory come Finals weekend in December.

With preparations in full swing, some – such as England and France – are looking to build on impressive Six Nations performances while others, like Wales and Italy, are hoping the new competition will offer a change in fortunes.

Georgia will be eager to seize the opportunity to show what they can do, starting at Twickenham on Saturday, while Fiji are set to provide no shortage of entertainment – their clash with France on Sunday pits two free-flowing sides against one another.

But before all the action gets underway, each head coach will be mulling over their starting XVs and matchday squads.

Will new names be given chances to shine? Is it a time to stick with the big guns? We will find out over the course of this week – here’s when to expect each nation’s team news…

TUESDAY

IRELAND

Ireland get the Autumn Nations Cup underway at home to Wales on Friday evening and they are first out the blocks when it comes to team announcements, with Andy Farrell set to reveal his matchday squad at 1pm on Tuesday.

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Farrell could hand a debut to James Lowe, the New Zealand-born Leinster wing who is now eligible for selection having trained with the squad in the build-up to their Six Nations clashes against Italy and France.

Munster’s Shane Daly and Ulster fly-half Billy Burns are the other uncapped players in Farrell’s 34-man squad as Ireland look to build on a third-place finish in the Six Nations.

Burns will hope to apply pressure on Johnny Sexton for the No.10 jersey. Sexton and Farrell have each played down the former’s frustrated reaction to being substituted in the closing stages of Ireland’s defeat in Paris last time out, with Ireland’s head coach describing it as “a storm in a teacup”.

WEDNESDAY

WALES

Wayne Pivac will name his team for the Group A opener in Dublin at noon on Wednesday.

Ireland ran out 24-14 victors when the two sides met in the Six Nations in February but Wales have seen the likes of Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams return from injury since then and could call upon both on Friday.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones, who became international rugby’s most capped player of all time when he led the side out against Scotland a fortnight ago, is set to make his 150th Test appearance.

George North will win his 100th Test cap if selected while his fellow wing Louis Rees-Zammit made his international debut off the bench in Wales’ autumn warm-up fixture against France in October and will hope to feature in the Autumn Nations Cup.

SCOTLAND

The mood in the Scotland camp will be a buoyant one following their first win in Wales since 2002 and they will travel to Florence for Saturday’s Group B opener full of confidence.

Gregor Townsend is due to announce his team at 12.45pm on Wednesday and the biggest question mark surrounds the fly-half spot following injuries to both Finn Russell and Adam Hastings.

Duncan Weir would appear to be next in line, though Stuart Hogg is capable of filling in if required, while Scotland fans will be excited to see more of Duhan van der Merwe on the wing after his try-scoring introduction to international rugby against Georgia.

Scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, fresh from helping Exeter Chiefs to a domestic and European double, is the only addition to the squad which was named at the start of October.

ITALY

Italy head coach Franco Smith faces the media at 1.30pm on Wednesday to reveal the 23 in his matchday squad as they prepare to welcome Scotland on Saturday.

Welsh-born scrum-half Stephen Varney, 19, joins his Gloucester teammate Jake Polledri in the squad as Smith’s side look to improve following a Six Nations wooden spoon.

Varney is one of four uncapped players currently part of Italy’s autumn training group and joins Daniele Rimpelli, Nicolae Stoian and Jacopo Trulla in hoping for a debut.

Fly-half Paolo Garbisi made an impressive impact on his introduction to international rugby against Ireland and England in the Six Nations and the 20-year-old will set his sights on enhancing his reputation further in the Autumn Nations Cup.

THURSDAY

ENGLAND

Fresh from leading his side to the Six Nations title, Eddie Jones will name his squad to take on Georgia in England’s Autumn Nations Cup opener on Thursday.

Jones has ruled out naming an experimental line-up for Saturday’s clash, insisting he will not hand out caps “willy-nilly”, though he has hinted at playing with nine forwards in a tactic he used against the same opposition while in charge of Japan.

Whether this is mind games or a genuine consideration remains to be seen but England know they will be without wing Anthony Watson, who misses out with the ankle knock he picked up against Italy.

Uncapped Wasps duo Jacob Umaga and Jack Willis will be hoping to make their international bows while Ben Youngs will look to build on a memorable 100th cap, having scored a brace to help England to victory in Rome a fortnight ago.

GEORGIA

Georgia are relishing the opportunity to showcase their talent against world-class opposition and will name their side on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s trip to Twickenham.

“Playing against England at Twickenham is a very special occasion for any rugby player,” said back-rower Beka Gorgadze last week and the Lelos are hoping to improve on their first post-lockdown showing, a 48-7 defeat against Scotland in October.

This is the first time Georgia have played England outside a World Cup and experienced backs Lasha Khmaladze and Sandro Todua will aim to add to their respective tallies of 83 and 86 caps in the coming weeks.

Georgia’s notoriously strong pack includes Leicester Tigers hooker Shalva Mamukashvili, who has plenty of experience facing English opposition, as well as Montpellier’s Mikheil Nariashvili and Toulon’s Kote Mikautadze.

FRIDAY

FRANCE

Having missed out on the Six Nations title on points difference, France will look to go one better in the Autumn Nations Cup and begin their Group B campaign against Fiji in Vannes on Sunday.

Fabien Galthie will face the press at 11am on Friday to announce his selection, with dynamic half-back pairing Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack set to continue where they left off after linking up in style during the Six Nations.

Galthie has named four uncapped players – Teddy Baubigny, Cyril Cazeaux, Julien Delbouis and Gabin Villiere – in his 28-man squad for the tournament as a whole.

FIJI

Fiji claimed their first ever victory over France in the most recent meeting between the two sides, in November 2018, and will look to repeat the feat almost exactly two years on.

Vern Cotter is due to announce his team on Friday ahead of Sunday’s clash and the Fiji head coach can once more call upon wing Nemani Nadolo, who has come out of retirement and is set to add to his 29 caps.

There are nine Fiji-based players – Tevita Ikanivere, Samuela Tawake, Jone Koroiduadua, Chris Minimbi, Manueli Ratuniyarawa, Peni Matawalu, Simione Kuruvoli, Tuidraki Samusamuvodre and Serupepeli Vularika – in the 32-man squad, each of whom will gain plenty from playing against top-tier European opposition.

France have been playing some fantastic rugby since the international game returned but if anyone can fight fire with fire in that respect, it’s Fiji – Sunday’s match should be a delight.

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