November rugby Tests: Week 1 line-ups, team news, verdicts

play
How much will the Wallabies feel the loss of Kerevi? (1:08)

Sam Bruce and Christy Doran discuss the impact of the Wallabies being without hard-charging centre Samu Kerevi. (1:08)

While New Zealand and Scotland opened their autumn programme with wins last Saturday, this weekend sees the Test window officially open with a bumper batch of fixtures.

There are some mouth-watering matches to be played, highlighted by the weekend's closing encounter between Scotland and Australia at Murrayfield on Sunday afternoon [BST].

Read on as we bring you all the latest line-ups, team news and match verdicts as they come to hand.

[Note: all kick-off times are local]

SATURDAY NOV. 6

Ireland vs. Japan, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, 1.00pm

Ireland: Hugo Keenan, Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe, Johnny Sexton (captain), Jamison Gibson Park, Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.
Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, Peter O'Mahony, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Keith Earls.

Japan: Kotaro Matsushima, Dylan Riley, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura, Siosaia Fifita, Yu Tamura, Yutaka Nagare, Kazuki Himeno, Pieter Labuschagne (captain), Ben Gunter, James Moore, Jack Cornelsen, Koo Ji-won, Atsushi Sakate, Keita Inagaki

Replacements: Yusuke Niwai, Craig Millar, Asaeli Ai Valu, Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Tevita Tatafu, Naoto Saito, Rikiya Matsuda, Ryohei Yamanaka.

Team news: Flyhalf Jonathan Sexton will become the seventh Ireland player to win 100 test caps when his side open against Japan at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday.

Sexton has battled with injuries for the past 12 months but has been cleared to return as captain of the side and bring up his century of appearances, one of 11 players from Leinster in coach Andy Farrell's starting lineup.

Uncapped hooker Dan Sheehan, an explosive player in the loose, will make his debut if he comes off the bench.

Meanwhile, France-based Kotaro Matsushima will start at fullback for Japan in their autumn international clash with Ireland, while Yu Tamura takes over the flyhalf jersey at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

South African-born Matsushima missed last month's 32-23 loss to Australia due to club commitments with Clermont but is one of three changes to the starting lineup from that game.

He replaces Semisi Masirewa, while Dylan Riley takes over from Lomano Lemeki on the wing and Tamura is preferred to Rikiya Matsuda at flyhalf.

-Reuters-

Verdict: These two teams met earlier in the year, when Ireland were without their British & Irish Lions stars. But Farrell's team still emerged victorious, winning 39-31. Japan should be better prepared this time around, however, having come off a narrow defeat by Australia, while the inclusion of Matsushima adds another attacking element. Still, with Sexton calling the shots at No. 10, and Lions tourists Tadhg Furlong and Tadhg Beirne back in the pack, the hosts should be able to put the squeeze on a Brave Blossoms outfit that relies on continuity and ball retention. Ireland by 12.


Italy vs. New Zealand, Stadio Olimpico, Rome, 2.00pm

Italy: Matteo Minozzi, Federico Mori, Juan Ignacio Brex, Marco Zanon, Montanna Ioanne, Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney, Renato Giammarioli, Michele Lamaro, Sebastian Negri, David Susi, Marco Fuser, Marco Riccioni, Gianmarco Lucchesi, Danilo Fishcetti.
Replacements: Luca Bigi, Ivan Nemer, Pietro Ceccarelli, Niccolo Cannone, Federico Ruzza, Abraham Steyn, Callum Braley, Carlo Cana.

New Zealand: Damian McKenzie, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, Quinn Tupaea, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Brad Weber, Hoskins Sotutu, Sam Cane (captain), Luke Jacobson, Josh Lord, Tupou Vaa'i, Tyrel Lomax, Dane Coles, George Bower.
Replacements: Asafo Aumua, Ethan de Groot, Ofa Tuungafasi, Sam Whitelock, Shannon Frizell, Finlay Christie, David Havili, Jordie Barrett.

Team news: Richie Mo'unga will start at flyhalf as one of a number of changes to a largely second-string New Zealand side to tackle Italy in Rome on Saturday.

Mo'unga replaces Beauden Barrett as coach Ian Foster rests some of his usual starters, with wing Sevu Reece, scrumhalf Brad Weber, lock Tupou Vaa'i and prop Tyrel Lomax moving into the lineup from the side that thumped Wales 54-16 in Cardiff last weekend.

Meanwhile, Italy coach Kieran Crowley has named an experienced team for his first game in charge since succeeding Franco Smith, who has moved into a new role as the country's head of high performance.

"On Saturday the focus will be on our performance as we continue along the path aimed at creating a very specific team identity," Crowley said.

-Reuters-

Verdict: All Blacks coach Foster has taken the opportunity to rotate in some of the rising stars in his squad, with the likes of Quinn Tupaea, Hoskins Sotutu, Luke Jacobson, Josh Lord, Tupou Vaa'i, Tyrel Lomax, all getting the chance to cut loose against Italy. And they should have little trouble opening up the Italians' defence, particularly with Richie Mo'unga calling the shots at fly-half. Barrett's performance against Wales last week won't have been lost on Mo'unga, who will want to show why he should be the man to start the big Tests against Ireland and France over the next fortnight. This will be a comfortable win for the All Blacks. New Zealand by 45.


England vs. Tonga, Twickenham, London, 3.15pm

England: Freddie Steward, Adam Radwan, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs, Ellis Genge,. Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Courtney Lawes, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry.
Replacements: Jamie Blamire, Joe Marler, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Alex Dombrandt, Alex Mitchell, Marcus Smith, George Furbank.

Tonga: Telusa Veainu, Walter Fifita, Mali Hingano, Afusipa Taumoepeau, Solomone Kata; Kurt Morath, Sontane Takulua; Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, Paul Ngauamo, Ben Tameifuna, Leva Fifita, Tanginoa Halaifonua, Lopeti Timani, Mateaki Kafatolu, Sione Vailanu
Replacements: Siua Maile, Loni Uhila, Ma'afu Fia, Setefano Funaki, Onehunga Havili, Leon Fukofuka, James Faiva, Viliami Fine.

Team news: England captain Owen Farrell has been ruled out of the match against Tonga at Twickenham on Saturday after returning a positive COVID-19 test and missing the Captain's Run on Friday.

He has been placed in isolation and will undergo further tests. Eddie Jones instead named George Furbank at fly-half and Courtney Lawes was given the captain's armband.

Inside centre Manu Tuilagi makes his first appearance for England since March 2020, after coming back from injury, with Henry Slade at outside centre. Ben Youngs will win his 110th cap at scrum-half, with uncapped Alex Mitchell among the replacements. Winger Adam Radwan will win his second cap, with Freddie Steward winning his third at full-back.

-Reuters-

Verdict: While the availability of Farrell, either way, is unlikely to have much impact on the outcome of England's opening fixture of their Autumn programme, Jones will be hoping to field his strongest possible side and discover some cohesion ahead of huge matches against Australia and South Africa in the coming weeks. With that in mind, the inexperienced pair of Steward and Radwan will be hoping to cut loose in what is expected to be a high-scoring England win, and catch Jones' eye with some attacking flair. Smith's long-awaited England debut is another intriguing sub-plot, and Jones would relish the chance of playing the youngster at No.10, with Farrell in behind at inside centre. Tonga are unlikely to put up much opposition, in what is the first meeting of these teams outside of a Rugby World Cup. England by 35.


Wales vs. South Africa, Principality Stadium, Cardiff, 5.30pm

Wales : Johnny McNicholl, Louis Rees-Zammit, Jonathan Davies, Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams, Aaron Wainwright, Taine Basham, Ellis Jenkins, Adam Beard, Will Rowlands, Tomas Francis, Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre.
Replacements: Bradley Roberts, Wyn Jones, WillGriff John, Ben Carter, Seb Davies, Gareth Davies, Gareth Anscombe, Liam Williams.

South Africa: Damian Willemse, Jesse Kriel, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handré Pollard, Herschel Jantjies, Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith, Siya Kolisi (captain), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche.
Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese, Cobus Reinach, Elton Jantjies, Frans Steyn

Team news: South Africa fullback Damian Willemse has been handed a rare start as one of four changes to the match-day squad for the autumn international series match against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

Jesse Kriel replaces wing Sbu Nkosi, who had his journey to Europe from South Africa delayed by passport and visa issues, while Herschel Jantjies is at scrumhalf with Faf de Klerk unavailable through injury.

Wales loose-forward Ellis Jenkins will play his first international Test in three years as one of six changes made by coach Wayne Pivac.

He comes in to replace Ross Moriarty, who like skipper Alun Wyn Jones was injured in the 54-16 mauling by New Zealand last weekend.

- Reuters -

Verdict: It doesn't get any easier for Wales after last week's late capitulation against the All Blacks, with the world champions arriving in Cardiff keen to get their spring tour off to a winning start. Worryingly for the Welsh, the Springboks really started to look like their old selves in back-to-back Tests with the All Blacks to close out the Rugby Championship, after earlier battling against the Wallabies. They will feel the loss of De Klerk but the ongoing selection of Kwagga Smith in the back-row gives a far greater balance to the loose forward unit. Wales, meanwhile, will welcome the return of Dan Biggar and Louis Rees-Zammit, while No. 7 Taine Basham will be looking to back up his strong game against the All Blacks with another dogged breakdown performance this weekend. The loss of Alun Wyn Jones is huge for the hosts, though, and the Boks forwards will really look to dominate as a result. South Africa by 8.


France vs. Argentina, Stade de France, Paris, 9.30pm

France: Melvyn Jaminet, Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Romain Ntamack, Gabin Villiere, Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Dupont (capt.), Anthony Jelonch, Cameron Woki, Francois Cros, Paul Willemse, Thibaud Flament, Mohamed Haouas, Julien Marchand, Cyril Baille.
Replacements: Peato Mauvaka, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Demba Bamba, Romain Taofifenua, Gregory Alldritt, Sekou Macalou, Maxime Lucu, Jonathan Danty.

Argentina: Emiliano Boffelli, Bautista Delguy, Matías Moroni, Jeronimo De La Fuente, Mateo Carreras, Santiago Carreras, Tomas Cubelli, Facundo Isa, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera, Tomas Lavanini, Guido Petti, Francisco Gomez Kodela, Julian Montoya (captain), Thomas Gallo

Replacements: Facundo Bosch, Rodrigo Martinez, Santiago Medrano, Lucas Paulos, Juan Martin Gonzalez, Gonzalo Bertranou, Nicolas Sanchez, Lucio Cinti.

Team news: France have handed a debut to Toulouse lock Thibaud Flament as coach Fabien Galthie makes 11 changes from their last outing for side's clash with Argentina at the Stade de France.

Only loose forwards Cameron Woki and Anthony Jelonch, who is no longer captain, plus backs Damian Penaud and Melvyn Jaminet remain from the team that lost 33-30 in the third and final Test against Australia in Brisbane in July.

Antoine Dupont was named captain last month and will partner flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert, while Romain Ntamack has been moved to centre where he covers for injured midfielders Virimi Vakatawa and Arthur Vincent.

Meanwhile, scrum-half Tomas Cubelli has returned to the Argentina line-up as coach Mario Ledesma named his side to take on France in their autumn international test in Paris on Saturday.

The team features eight changes from their final match of the Rugby Championship where they lost 32-17 to Australia in Townsville last month.

Loose forward Facundo Isa and backline players Jeronimo De La Fuente and Bautista Delguy are also back after injury, while the influential Pablo Matera has been restored to the side after missing the last Test having violated COVID-19 regulations in Australia.

-Reuters-

Verdict: These two teams have a habit of playing out thrilling encounters with more than a touch of drama, their most recent meeting at the 2019 World Cup a case-in-point. But this is a different French outfit, and one desperate to start building some momentum ahead of their home World Cup. The combination of Antoine Dupont, Jalibert and Ntamack will be fascinating to watch, while Cameron Woki was one of the standout performers from Les Bleus' 2-1 loss in Australia in July. Argentina, meanwhile, are without a win in six Tests having dropped all of their Rugby Championship encounters. Matera is a big inclusion, but he needs greater contributions and better discipline from the rest of his teammates in the pack if the Pumas are going to stay in touch here. France by 15.


SUNDAY NOV. 7

Scotland vs. Australia, Murrayfield, Edinburgh, 2.15pm

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Duhan van der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ali Price; Pierre Schoeman, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson
Replacements: Ewan Ashman, Jamie Bhatti, Oli Kebble, Jamie Hodgson, Josh Bayliss, George Horner, Adam Hastings, Kyle Steyn

Australia: Andrew Kellaway, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, James O'Connor, Nic White; James Slipper, Folau Fainga'a, Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Rob Leota, Michael Hooper, Rob Valetini
Replacements: Connal McInerney, Angus Bell, Taniela Tupou, Will Skelton, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, Kurtley Beale, Izaia Perese

Team news: Gregor Townsend has made six changes to his team from last weekend's thumping of Tonga, with captain Stuart Hogg and flyhalf Finn Russell returning to what is an experienced Scotland side. British & Irish Lions winger Duhan van der Merwe also returns to the side, along with Chris Harris, Sam Skinner and Grant Gilchrist.

Prop Pierre Schoeman is the only one of last weekend's four debutants to retain his place and starts in the front row along with Glasgow pair George Turner and Zander Fagerson. The back row is also unchanged, with Lion Hamish Watson and vice-captain Jamie Ritchie starting either side of Matt Fagerson.

Ali Price renews his half-back partnership with Russell, Harris joins Sam Johnson in the centre, while Darcy Graham completes the back three as he is moved to the wing. Kyle Steyn drops to the bench following his four-try display last weekend, alongside the uncapped Ewan Ashman.

Kurtley Beale is set to make his first Wallabies appearance since the 2019 Rugby World Cup after being named on the bench for Australia's trip to Murrayfield. Beale, who has won 92 caps for his country, is one of three experienced players who have been recalled by head coach Dave Rennie, along with Rory Arnold and Will Skelton, with the former starting in the second row.

James O'Connor has been named at flyhalf, with Andrew Kellaway coming in at fullback in place of the injured Reece Hodge. Back Izaia Perese could make his Wallabies debut after being named on the bench. Michael Hooper captains the side in an unchanged back row alongside Rob Leota and Rob Valetini.

Verdict: Scotland are shooting for three straight against the Wallabies having won both of their encounters since the 2015 World Cup. But this is a different Australian outfit under Dave Rennie, and the hosts will know they are in for a real fight at Murrayfield as such. The Wallabies are chasing a sixth straight victory of their own, but they are without the axis of that winning run after Quade Cooper and Samu Kerevi remained in Japan following a back-and-forth contract struggle between Rugby Australia and the duo's Top League clubs. The Wallabies were able to defeat Japan but the omission of Kerevi from that match was telling. Up against the dogged Scottish defence, led by Hamish Watson, Australia will need Rob Valetini to again lead the ball-carrying charge while Rory Arnold should also offer further punch at lock. Scotland warmed up for this Test by trouncing Tonga last week, but this is a significant step up. Gregor Townsend's team have the quality and tactical nous to defeat Australia, and the home crowd might just help them get over the line. Scotland by 3.