Recaps & Updates ahead of Six Nations Week 3
Slade hits high notes for England
Patience appears to have paid off for Henry Slade after two rounds of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations. It has not been easy for Slade to make his way up to the international stage. The Exeter centre was stalled by a broken leg, is also diabetic, and it all comes in the early days of the Jones reign who was favouring Jonathan Joseph and Ben Te’O. However, slowly but surely Slade won his head coach around starting all three Tests last summer in South Africa and three of four this autumn.
“He’s a guy that maybe at first he didn’t think he was good enough for England and now he’s thinking about how good he can be,” said Jones.
“You build players mentally by picking them because then they know you love them, and we’ve done that with him. He’s played seven of our last eight Tests at outside centre, so he knows I love him and that helps.”
Kearney’s return sparks Ireland
Rob Kearney is cemented as one of Ireland’s greats. With 88 caps under his belt, two Grand Slams in his cabinet he is a force to be reckoned with. Rob Kearney had nothing to prove in Ireland’s Six Nation’s win over Scotland but he did it anyway.
The full-back was sublime in Edinburgh, assured under the high ball, powerful in carry, and precise in positioning. He reminded everyone of everything he has been for the past 11 years of his international career.
England demolish France 44-8 to top Six Nations Table
England cruised to a 44-8 victory with a bonus-point. The win came courtesy of a first-half hat-trick of tried from Jonny May, leading them to the top of the Six Nations table.
England have now won 10 of their last 13 Six Nations matches against France, Les Bleus on a horrible run of eight defeats in their last nine with the two sides due to meet at the group stages of this autumns’ World Cup.
Mako Vunipola ruled out of the rest of the Six Nations
Mako Vunipola, one of England’s best performers so far in the championship, suffered ankle ligament damage in Sunday’s 44-8 win over France at Twickenham.
He has been ruled out of the rest of the Six Nations as he is expected to be out for 10 weeks. The 28-year-old will return to his club Saracens.
“It is obviously very disappointing to lose Mako at this stage,” England head coach Eddie Jones said.
“He is an important player for us but it does provide an opportunity for the team to grow.”
Vunipola missed the autumn Test matches with a calf injury, but returned to the international arena against Ireland, producing an astonishing individual performance in the 32-20 win.
He backed that up with a strong performance against France, before leaving the field at the start of the second half.
Vunipola’s injury will present an opportunity to Exeter’s Ben Moon and Leicester’s Ellis Genge, who have both featured during the Six Nations.
Leigh Halfpenny will be back for Wales vs England
Leigh Halfpenny suffered a blow to the head against Australia in November, but it has now been confirmed that the 30-year-old will be fit to face England on 23rd February.
“It’s great to see him running around with a smile on his face,” said Pivac.
Halfpenny was injured in a challenge by Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi that Wales boss Warren Gatland described as ‘reckless’.
Pivac says Halfpenny’s fitness has been fully tested during a Scarlets training match.
“He did everything – full contact, full tackling – we had a mini-game scenario with no hiding places and he was taking high balls, getting clattered and did everything he needed to do,” he said.
“He goes back as ‘available’, in consideration for Wales, and if they feel they need a game, we’ll slot them in (against Benetton).”
Halfpenny’s return would ease any goal-kicking worries Wales might have had if Gareth Anscombe is preferred at fly-half to Dan Biggar when they take on England.