Ireland vs Australia: Garry Ringrose makes first start as Robbie Henshaw and Johnny Sexton miss out

Garry Ringrose will make his first senior start at inside centre to solve injury-hit Ireland’s midfield dilemma against Australia in Dublin on Saturday.

The 21-year-old has not started a game at 12 since turning out for Leinster’s under-20s last season but acquitted himself admirably in the role off the bench against New Zealand last weekend.

Robbie Henshaw’s absence through concussion and Johnny Sexton’s hamstring problem has forced Ireland into several midfield reshuffles to take on the Wallabies.

Paddy Jackson slots in at fly-half with British and Irish Lions fly-half Sexton sidelined, while Rob Kearney and CJ Stander have overcome concussion issues to start.

Ireland had drafted Ulster centre Stuart Olding into their squad in midweek while releasing midfielder Luke Marshall back to the Belfast province.

But Ireland boss Joe Schmidt has opted to give highly-rated Ringrose his head at inside centre, even though he has not even started a PRO12 match for Leinster in the role.

Ireland boss Schmidt insisted Ringrose’s performance under pressure at inside centre last weekend against the All Blacks had won the young gun another chance to impress in the 12 shirt.

“Really it’s a reflection of his performance last week,” said Schmidt. “I thought Garry stepped in and did incredibly well against New Zealand.

“He slipped a couple of tackles, got one line break and almost got another couple, and he was among our top tacklers.

“So it’s another opportunity to invest in Garry.

“He’s been in camp with us for a year and a half at different times, and he’s been a bit of a long-term investment, that we want to take this opportunity to develop a bit further.”


Sexton is replaced by Paddy Jackson (Getty)

Schmidt conceded Ireland lost some of their attacking stability against New Zealand on Saturday once Henshaw and Sexton went off injured.

But the former Leinster boss remains adamant one more week working together will hand Jackson, Ringrose and Jared Payne the confidence to run a seamless offensive game.

“We lost our shape at points last week, it was quite difficult with those changes,” said Schmidt.

“Sometimes you create chances but if you don’t have leadership then you don’t tend to have cohesion, and guys aren’t then in the right place at the right time.

“Robbie Henshaw was an absolutely stand-out player for us in Chicago.

“And not having him for the majority of Saturday’s match probably didn’t allow us quite so much robustness through the midfield.

4 henshaw.jpg

Henshaw was concussed against New Zealand last weekend (Jean Catuffe)

“And not having Johnny (Sexton) didn’t quite give us the same kind of organisation.

“Not that Paddy Jackson can’t do that, we saw in South Africa in the summer that he can, but he hadn’t had nearly as much time in the saddle recently as Johnny.

“So what we’re hoping is that they’ve had a bit of game time together last week, and we’ve had training since, and hopefully those guys can get a bit of confidence from that.

“And hopefully that confidence can be reflected in the performance we put together on Saturday.”

R Kearney (Leinster), A Trimble, J Payne (both Ulster), G Ringrose (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), P Jackson (Ulster), C Murray (Munster), J McGrath (Leinster), R Best (Ulster, capt), T Furlong (Leinster), I Henderson (Ulster), D Toner (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster), S O’Brien, J Heaslip (both Leinster).

Replacements: S Cronin, C Healy (both Leinster), F Bealham, U Dillane (both Connacht), J Van der Flier (Leinster), K Marmion (Connacht), J Carbery (Leinster), S Zebo (Munster).

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England vs Argentina: Semesa Rokoduguni and Alex Goode omitted from squad despite Fiji tries

Semesa Rokoduguni has been omitted from England’s squad to play Argentina on Saturday, despite scoring twice against Fiji last weekend.

The Bath wing, along with Saracens full-back Alex Goode have both been sent back to their clubs by Eddie Jones with Mike Brown and Jonny May set to replace them in the England XV.

It also means that Elliot Daly will likely continue on the wing after his impressive try-scoring display, despite having not played in that position for, by his own omission, around five years.

Last week’s win was Fijian-born Rokoduguni’s first Test match in two years and he was named man of the match in the 58-15 rout but there is no suggestion he – or Goode – are injured.

Lock George Kruis is included in the 24-man squad for the match at Twickenham after returning ahead of schedule from minor ankle surgery and is set to make his first appearance of the autumn.

He could go straight into the starting XV against the Pumas after fellow second rower Joe Launchbury was handed a two-week ban after being cited for kicking during the win over Fiji.

Danny Care and Nathan Hughes both remain in the squad despite missing training on Tuesday with minor problems, with the latter set to battle it out with Teimana Harrison, who scored his first international try against Fiji, to start at open-side.

Tom Wood is recalled to the squad after being given the weekend off against Fiji and is in contention for only his second England start in over a year, with Jones set to name his starting XV and replacements on Thursday.


Kruis could start after Joe Launchbury’s two-week ban (Getty)

24-man England squad:

Forwards: Dan Cole (Leicester), Charlie Ewels (Bath), Jamie George (Saracens), Teimana Harrison, Dylan Hartley (both Northampton), Nathan Hughes (Wasps), George Kruis (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Joe Marler, Chris Robshaw, Kyle Sinckler (all Harlequins), Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola (both Saracens), Tom Wood (Northampton).

Backs: Mike Brown, Danny Care (both Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford, Jonathan Joseph (both Bath), Jonny May (Gloucester), Henry Slade (Exeter), Ben Te’o (Worcester), Ben Youngs (Leicester).

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Joe Launchbury to miss rest of England's autumn series following two-week ban for kicking

Joe Launchbury has been ruled out of the remaining two matches of England’s autumn series after being found guilty of kicking Fiji’s Asaeli Tikoirotuma.

Launchbury will miss the clashes with Argentina and Australia after his boot connected with the head of the Fijian outside centre in the 42nd minute of a record 58-15 victory at Twickenham.

The act was deemed reckless rather than deliberate and the low end sanction for the offence of a four-week ban was reduced to two weeks due to Launchbury’s admission of guilt, his previous clean disciplinary record and good conduct at the hearing.

Launchbury appeared before a three-man independent disciplinary committee in London and accepted he had committed an act of foul play that would have warranted a red card.

The Wasps captain is free to play from December 5, two days after Australia conclude the autumn program at Twickenham, but has the right to appeal.

While Launchbury can have few complaints with the sanction – the kick left Tikoirotuma in significant discomfort – his absence is a major personal blow given his strong form against South Africa and Fiji.

The injury-enforced absence of Maro Itoje and George Kruis offered Launchbury the chance to revise Eddie Jones’ second row hierarchy by resurrecting his lock partnership with Courtney Lawes.

His work-rate and impact on the opening two matches of the Old Mutual Wealth Series had served to illustrate England’s extraordinary depth in the second row, but he must now resign himself to the role of spectator.

It is a less of a blow to his country, however, as fortuitous timing has seen Kruis make a rapid recovery from ankle surgery and he is available to start Saturday’s showdown with the Pumas.

Adding to the number of options in the position is Dave Attwood, who has overcome the knee problem that forced him to miss the rout of Fiji and the Bath forward is in contention for selection.

Kruis is set to start against Argentina alongside Lawes and would resume calling the line-out.


Launchbury’s absence opens the door for Kruis to return (Getty)

“George has worked really hard on his rehab and he’s done really well to get back so quickly,” forwards coach Steve Borthwick said.

“He’s been around in the later stages of his rehab and it’s testament to his character that he’s been able to get back from his injury so quickly. He’s in contention for Argentina.”

Jones is scheduled to name his team on Thursday morning and with the composition of his second row decided by Launchbury’s suspension and Kruis’ return, his focus up front will turn to openside where Teimana Harrison is likely to make way for Tom Wood.

England are expected to revert to their first choice starting XV against Argentina, who finished bottom of last summer’s Rugby Championship, with Mike Brown returning at full-back.

The wings are fiercely contested, however, with Jonny May, Semesa Rokoduguni, Marland Yarde and Elliot Daly competing for the two slots available.

Meanwhile, Borthwick admits it would be an “honour” and “privilege” to act as forwards coach on the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand next summer.

Head coach Warren Gatland has already held talks with Borthwick, but his appointment has yet to be finalised.


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Italy vs South Africa: Azzurri heap more misery on the Springboks after claiming historic victory in Florence

Giovanbattista Venditti scored a crucial second-half try as Italy bounced back from an All Blacks mauling to score an historic first 20-18 win over embattled South Africa on Saturday.

Bryan Habana, winning his 124th cap for the Springboks, gave Allister Coetzee’s men an early boost with an eighth-minute try that took his test total to 67.

But Italy, now under Irish coach Conor O’Shea, were on a mission to play creative rugby and did so while repelling several promising South African attacks during an entertaining game in Florence.

Praising his players’ “courage”, O’Shea was quick to calm hopes of an Italian renaissance in Florence.

“I’m very happy for the players and the fans, but this is only the start us,” said O’Shea, who succeeded Frenchman Jacques Brunel in July.

“We have a lot to do to change rugby in Italy, but we have the capability, talent and potential to do it.

“Today, we made a lot of mistakes and we had some problems with discipline. But the sheer heart and courage … they weren’t just brave, they were just heroic.”

It is South Africa’s first defeat to Italy in 13 matches and will heap more pressure on Coetzee ahead of their final November Test against Wales next week.

Coetzee pinpointed Italy’s defence as the key and he was vindicated in an entertaining first half that saw the Boks left frustrated with their two-point half-time lead.


Sergio Parisse escapes with the ball to lead an Italian charge (Getty)

But Coetzee’s decision to recall Habana paid dividends almost immediately when he touched over after full-back Willie Le Roux’s powerful run.

Patrick Lambie missed the conversion from wide on the left just inside the 22.

Italian heads went down quickly in Rome last week when the All Blacks scored the first of 10 tries inside five minutes, but the Azzurri had been given hope by the Boks’ recent crisis.

From the restart, Italy won a penalty and kicked deep into Bok territory where a driving maul, and some chaotic defence, saw Bloemfontein-born Andries Van Schalkwyk crash over for a pushover try.

Carlo Canna hit the conversion to give the hosts a 7-5 lead on 13 mins.

It sparked an immediate response, but Edoardo Padovani did well to stop Ruan Combrinck with a great touch tackle as the Boks charged down the middle.


Lood de Jager claims the ball from a Springbok line-out (Getty)

But the visitors were dogged and kept the ball moving in the middle before scrum-half Rudy Paige plucked it out and eventually found Damian de Allende in space on the right.

Italy captain Sergio Parisse made a despairing attempt at a tackle but there was no stopping the big centre. This time Lambie found a way through the posts and South Africa were ahead.

When Vincent Koch penalised from angling in at a scrum, Padovani hit a 50-metre penalty to take the score to 12-10.

South Africa started the second period in determined fashion and were given a boost when Fuser was shown a yellow card for a tip tackle on De Jaeger.

Play continued, but Combrinck missed an inside pass from Habana with the tryline begging.

Lambie kicked the penalty to take the Boks’ lead to 15-10, but the visitors spurned several chances to cross for their third try, Le Roux narrowly missing going over in the corner before seeing his pass back in field go awry.

The Boks, however, were caught out spectacularly on 55 minues when the ball was fed out to the left and Venditti went over in the corner.

Canna hit the conversion for a 17-15 lead to revive thoughts of the Boks’ historic defeat by Japan at the 2015 World Cup in England.

When Parisse was caught offside in his own half on the hour, Elton Jantjies fired his long-range effort over to take the score to 17-18.

But De Jaeger failed to roll away at a ruck, and Canna hit the penalty to take Italy’s lead to 20-18.

Italy thought they had won the match two minutes from the end when Marco Fuser touched down following a driving maul.

Amid South African protests, the try was ruled out by video replays.


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England vs Fiji: What time does it start, what TV channel is it on, teams, odds and where can I watch it?

It’s a big game for…

Semesa Rokoduguni: Due to start against the country of his birth, the 29-year-old winger has just one cap to his name, against New Zealand in 2014, and will be hoping for more of an opportunity this time round as he replaces Marland Yarde in the starting line-up.

Best stat…

These two countries have played each other only six times in history and England have come out on top every time, with their last fixture coming in the pool stages of the 2015 World Cup.

Remember when…

Charlie Sharples and Manu Tuilagi ran in two tries each as England recorded their largest ever victory against Fiji at Twickenham in 2012. Toby Flood kicked 17 points to secure a 42-point winning margin in their opening autumn international of that year.

Player to watch…

Alex Goode: Voted last season’s Premiership Player of the Year, Goode has regularly found himself as second-choice full-back behind Mike Brown since 2013. However, in his first start since last year’s World Cup pool match against Uruguay, the Saracens double-winner has the chance to stake his claim for a more regular role in the XV.


England: Alex Goode; Semesa Rokoduguni, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole; Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes; Chris Robshaw, Teimana Harrison, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Jamie George, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, Charlie Ewels, Nathan Hughes, Danny Care, Ben Te’o, Henry Slade.

Fiji: Metui Talebula; Benito Masilevu, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Albert Vulivuli, Nemani Nadolo; Josh Matavesi, Seru Vularika; Campese Ma’afu, Sunia Koto, Manasa Saulo; Api Ratuniyawara, Leone Nakarawa; Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Peceli Yato, Akapusi Qera.

Replacements: Tuapati Talemaitoga, Peni Ravai, Leeroy Atalifo, Nemia Soqeta, Naulia Dawai, Eremasi Radrodro, Nikola Matawalu, Kini Murimurivalu


Alex Goode starts in place of Mike Brown at full-back (Getty)

Past three meetings…

England 35 Fiji 11, September 2015

England 54 Fiji 12, November 2012

England 45 Fiji 24, October 1999

Form guide…

England: WWWWWW


Vital information…

Kick-off: 2:30pm, Saturday 19 November

TV: Live on Sky Sports 2


England to win: 1/250

Fiji to win: 40/1

Draw: 20/1

(Odds provided by SkyBet)

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