Six Nations

No room for sentiment as Six Nations take shape

2017-02-11 08:17
Conor O'Shea (Getty Images)

Cardiff - Italy coach Conor O'Shea has insisted there will be no question of divided loyalties when the Azzurri face his native Ireland in the second round of the Six Nations Championship on Saturday.

Italy and Ireland will both be coming off defeats in Rome whereas Saturday's second match in Cardiff pits Grand Slam champions England, who launched their title defence with an unconvincing 19-16 home win over France, against a Wales side fresh from a 33-7 victory in Rome.

Meanwhile Sunday will see Scotland aim to back up their 27-22 win over Ireland by ending their 18-year wait for a Championship victory against France in Paris.

"Ireland is where my family is, where my home is and where I spend my holidays," said O'Shea.

"But right now my only priority is rugby with Italy. I'm not thinking about Ireland, but about us. We've got a mountain to climb for 80 minutes."

Ireland's preparations suffered a setback when captain Rory Best went down with a stomach bug on Friday, the hooker confined to the team hotel while the rest of the squad trained at Rome's Stadio Olimpico.

"Hopefully he is going to be better with some extra hours of sleep," said Ireland assistant coach Simon Easterby.

Wales were sweating on the fitness of players with wing George North (leg) and fly-half Dan Biggar (ribs).

On Friday saw BBC Wales axe a short promotional film where several Wales fans were apparently unable to answer the question: "What's good about England?".

'CUNNING'

Mind you, England coach Eddie Jones, an Australian, had also done his bit for Anglo-Welsh relations before insisting, against Wales's wishes, that the Principality Stadium's retractable roof remain open.

"They're a cunning lot the Welsh aren't they?," said Jones, whose England side are looking to extend their national record winning-streak to 16 Tests.

"They always have been. They've got goats, they've got daffodils," added Jones, fired as Australia coach following a 2005 defeat in Cardiff.

Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde summed up the game's enduring importance by saying: "We are neighbours, aren't we?.

"I have got two English brothers-in-law. It is that English-Welsh rivalry, and wanting to get the better of your neighbour."

Scotland stunned Ireland with three tries inside the first half hour at Murrayfield last weekend and a similar display could end their Paris hoodoo.

"I'm not going to lie, I can't even remember the last time we won there in 1999," said Scotland flanker Hamish Watson, who was seven that year.

"France away is tough for any team, but this is great opportunity for us to make some history by beating them over there."

Last week at Twickenham saw France again go close against a major side only to lose narrowly, just as they did in November defeats by Australia (25-23) and world champions New Zealand (24-19).

"It's true that against Australia we could have won but didn't; against New Zealand we had a chance at the end; against England we lost at the end: it's annoying," said France coach Guy Noves.

Teams:

Ireland

15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Cian Healy

Substitutes: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 John Ryan, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Craig Gilroy

Italy

15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Luke Mclean, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Maxime Mbanda, 5 Andries van Schalkwyk, 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Andrea Lovotti

Substitutes: 16 Ornel Gega, 17 Sami Panico, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 George Biagi, 20 Abraham Steyn, 21 Giorgio Bronzini, 22 Tommaso Allan, 23 Michele Campagnaro

Read more on:    six nations  |  conor o'shea  |  rugby
NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Vote

Who will win the 2017 Six Nations title?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2017/18 PSL season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.