Rugby

4 Talking Points From England And Wales Six Nations Squad Announcements

4 Talking Points From England And Wales Six Nations Squad Announcements

As we gear up towards this year's Six Nations Championship, and with Andy Farrell due to name his Irish squad tomorrow, we take a look at some of the talking points from today's announcements of the English and Welsh squads.

Wales’ mounting injury list

Alun Wynn Jones, Talupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Leigh Halfpenny, George North, are just a small selection of the front line players who are unavailable through injury for the reigning Six Nations champions.

Welsh rugby is currently in a big slump, after a poor Autumn Series, while Ospreys, Cardiff, and Scarlets all sit at the bottom of their Champions Cup groups. Welsh clubs have played nine games in Europe this year and lost them all.

The chances of Wales retaining their crown are low, but nobody expected them to finish top last year, and they have a history of winning the Six Nations and Grand Slams as underdogs. However, given the strength of France, England, and Ireland, a win this time around would would be more unexpected than any previous year.

England’s absentees

The most surprising omission is of course George Ford. Recently named the Gallagher Premirship Player of the Month for December, instrumental in Leicester’s form this season, and considered by many to be the best flyhalf in England and possibly Europe.

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Even by Eddie Jones' standards, who is known for his ruthless selections, it’s an incredible act to discard the once-favoured Ford. Bath’s uncapped flyhalf Orlando Bailey will be under much scrutiny if he is to get game time. It also bodes well for Marcus Smith fans who is now the clear second choice 10, and may in fact start if Jones opts to play Farrell - who'll captain England - at 12.

Other notable absentees are Mako Vunipola and Elliot Daly, both recent Lions and stalwarts of Jones’ tenure.

New Blood

Jones is also never shy of bringing in fresh faces after casting aside his unwanted ones.

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There are six uncapped players in his Six Nations squad, including Alfie Barbeary of Wasps and Bath’s Orlando Bailey.

Barbeary has been in stunning form this season, scoring four tries, and playing a major role in his sides impressive win over reigning Champions Cup winners Toulouse on Saturday.

The inclusion of Bailey is a huge call, considering the omission of Ford, and if he is to get any game time, perhaps against Italy, there will be huge pressure on his shoulders.

Wales’ squad includes three new caps, all of whom play for the Ospreys. They are, back-row Jac Morgan, hooker Dewi Lake, and no. 8 James Ratti.

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Bradley Roberts Six Nations Call Up

Although we saw him get his first cap in the Autumn, it is still just as heartwarming to see Roberts’ name in Wayne Pivac’s squad.

For those you unfamiliar, the South African born-and-raised Ulster hooker was playing AIL Division 2 just three years ago for Derry club Rainey Old Boys.

His form for Rainey was rewarded with call up to Ulster as injury cover, before making his debut last season. He qualifies for Wales through his paternal grandmother.

See Also: The Fascinating Journeys Of The 2012 Ireland's U20 Rugby Team

The Intriguing Story Of The 2012 Ireland U20s

Colman Stanley

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