Wales injury update:
There is good news in the pipeline for the Welsh at scrumhalf with Tomos Williams back at training after his hamstring issues. The 26 year-old is, however, not expected to turn out in the red jersey against England on Saturday.
In other news, George North, Jonathan Davies, Josh Navidi and Johnny Williams are fit and available for selection.
Josh Adams is also back after his suspension and Leigh Halfpenny is being assessed in terms of concussion protocols, but management seem confident that he will be in decent shape to take on England.
Complications due to the Covid-19 pandemic have rendered South African referees Jaco Peyper and Marius van der Westhuizen unable to officiate in the coming weeks, prompting the following reshuffle:
Wayne Barnes (England) will take charge of Italy vs Wales in Round 4.
Ireland’s Andrew Brace will have the whistle for the Round 4 clash between England and France at Twickenham.
In Round 5, Pascal Gauzere will oversee Scotland vs Italy at Murrayfield.
England under no illusions that Wales game will be easy:
“They’re [Wales] extremely competitive,” said England defence coach John Mitchell. “it will require us to work really, really hard for each other as these games often go down to the wire. We’re really looking forward to it and showing what we’re capable of for the rest of the Six Nations.
“It’s one of those occasions that means a lot to both countries and players. Both countries have had sustained success but none of that really matters when it comes to playing against each other.”
Expected dates and times of team announcements:
Ireland – Wednesday, lunchtime.
England – Thursday morning.
Wales – Thursday, expected one hour after England announcement.
Italy – Thursday afternoon.
Scotland – Thursday afternoon, approximately 14:30.
Mike Catt believes Ireland are on the right track, despite not posting a win yet:
“Every team wants to score four or five tries every game, to go out and express themselves,” Catt said.
“Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but we believe the way we are going is the right way.
“We probably could have scored two or three more tries against Wales with 14 men with the opportunities we created, and against as France as well.
“Rugby is about the decisions you make, and we’re happy with what we’re creating.
“Then it’s about the final pass, the final decision, or putting ourselves in the right parts of the pitch to create pressure on the opposition. We didn’t do that well enough against France.”
Italy lose Tommaso Allan ahead of this weekends clash:
The only injury concern for Italy is losing Tommaso Allan who sustained an injury while on duty in the Pro 14 this weekend. He has returned to his club for rehab.
Johnny Sexton press conference:
France's Coronvirus situation looking up:
All the remaining French players and staff have tested negative for Covid-19 after the latest round. Last week, Arthur Vincent, Julien Marchand, Gabin Villiere, Mohamed Haouas and Antoine Dupont, as well as head coach Fabien Galthie and three other members of staff all tested positive and required by government regulations to self-isolate for a total of 10 days.