Keo.co.za brings you the latest news from the Six Nations.
Marconnet back in French fold
Stade Francais prop Sylvain Marconnet is set to make his first international appearance in two years after being recalled to the French squad.
Marconnet last appeared for the France in the 2007 Six Nations, but a broken leg just before the World Cup forced him out of the international picture.
But with Nicolas Mas ruled out for at least two weeks with a groin injury and Benoit Lecouls and Lionel Faure struggling for fitness, the 71 Test veteran has been handed an international lifeline.
“He is back in form and can bring us his experience,” said coach Marc Lievremont. “He has strung a lot of matches together and has a lot of enthusiasm. His return was expected.
Backs – Clement Poitrenaud (Toulouse), Julien Malzieu (Clermont-Auvergne), Maxime Medard, Cedric Heymans (both Toulouse), Maxime Mermoz (Perpignan), Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse), Benoit Baby (Clermont-Auvergne), Lionel Beauxis (Stade Francais), Morgan Parra (Bourgoin), Sebastien Tillous-Borde (Castres).
Forwards – Fabien Barcella (Biarritz), Lionel Faure (Sale), Thomas Domingo (Clermont-Auvergne), Sylvain Marconnet (Stade Francais), Benjamin Kayser (Leicester), Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Francais), Sebastien Chabal (Sale), Romain Millo-Chluski (Toulouse), Lionel Nallet (Castres, capt), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz), Fulgence Ouedraogo, Louis Picamoles (both Montpellier).
Fitzgerald wary of England threat
Ireland Winger Luke Fitzgerald has turned his attention to England after a brilliant personal performance against Italy last week.
Fitzgerald again sent out a message to the British and Irish Lions selectors by scoring two tries in Ireland’s 38-9 thumping of Italy last Sunday, but the youngster has already focused on toppling England at Croke Park a week on Saturday.
Ireland are determined to claim their fist championship since 1985 and a win over England might have been seen as a formality a couple of months ago, but their gutsy display against Wales in Cardiff last week has hinted at a possible revival for Martin Johnson’s side and Fitzgerald expects England to provide a stern test of his team’s championship credentials.
“England are always hard to play against and they’ve been getting a bit of stick from their own media at home,” said the 21-year-old winger. “But I can see from the bits and bobs I saw on Saturday against Wales that they look to be really imposing and a really tough team to break down.
“England are very well organised and they mix that with some fantastic finishers. They have some good wingers in Paul Sackey and Mark Cueto out wide so they have a good blend and will be really tough to beat.
“I thought they were unlucky in patches against Wales. If one or two things had gone their way then they may have come away with a win.”
Four back for Italy
Italy coach Nick Mallett has welcomed back four players to his squad ahead of their clash against Scotland next week.
Italy will be keen to register their first win of this year’s Six Nations against fellow strugglers Scotland in a bottom of the table clash at Murrayfield after two heavy defeats at the hands of England and Ireland.
Flyhalf Andrea Marcato is back after a head injury and lock Marco Bortolami returns from a knee problem after both men missed the defeat to Ireland, while scrumhalf Pablo Canavosio and hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini, who missed both opening Six Nations matches with injuries, also make their return.
Backs – Andrea Bacchetti, Mirco Bergamasco, Gonzalo Canale, Pablo Canavosio, Gonzalo Garcia, Paul Griffen, Andrea Marcato, Andrea Masi, Luke McLean, Matteo Pratichetti, Giulio Rubini.
Forwards – Mauro Bergamasco, Marco Bortolami, Martin Castrogiovanni, Carlo Antonio Del Fava, Santiago Dellape, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Carlos Nieto, Fabio Ongaro, Sergio Parisse, Salvatore Perugini, Ignacio Rouyet, Josh Sole, Alessandro Zanni.
This thread will be updated throughout the day.