first_imgSpeaking about the move to the Ospreys, Bearman commented: “I’m really looking forward to linking up with the Ospreys, this is an excellent opportunity for me to play top level rugby that I couldn’t turn down. I’ve enjoyed five good years at the Dragons, but I felt that the time was right for a new challenge and a change of environment. There were four or five really good offers on the table but it was the Ospreys who really impressed me. Bearman (centre) with Newport Gwent Dragons against Scarlets during the LV Anglo Welsh CupThe Ospreys are delighted to confirm the signing of back-row Joe Bearman from Newport Gwent Dragons on a two-year deal. Newquay born but Welsh qualified through residence, Bearman has put pen to paper on a contract that will keep him at the region until the end of the 2012/13 season.Capable of playing at blindside or number eight, Bearman joins the Ospreys after five years at the Dragons, where he has scored seven tries in 72 appearances prior to their game against Leinster yesterday. A huge favourite at Rodney Parade, he has a reputation as a powerful ball carrier and strong runner.Prior to signing for the Dragons, he spent a number of seasons at Cornish Pirates, captaining them for two, as they climbed the English league structure to become the first club from the county to reach National League One (now the Championship). NEWPORT, WALES – FEBRUARY 06: Joe Bearman of Newport Gwent Dragons and Rhys Lawrence of Scarlets battle for the ball during the LV Anglo Welsh Cup match between Newport Gwent Dragons and Scarlets at Rodney Parade on February 06, 2011 in Newport, Wales. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS “The management at the Ospreys have a clear plan for what they want to achieve, and I really like what I’ve seen of the young talent that has been playing over the last couple of months. I’ve got a lot of experience that I can bring to this young squad, I’ve played a lot of rugby and I hope I’ll be able to give that something extra to the group, including my ball carrying ability, something all teams need. I’ve had a look around at the excellent training facilities, spoken to the coaches, and with me being settled in Wales with my girlfriend this move is the obvious one for me. I can’t wait to get my teeth into a new challenge.”Ospreys Elite Performance Director, Andrew Hore, welcomed Joe to the region, saying: “Joe comes to us with an excellent reputation for being an honest, hard working individual, who thrives on the physical side of the game and is particularly renowned for his ability to make the hard yards with ball in hand. With his experience I’ve no doubt that he will prove to be a huge asset to the Ospreys environment, on and off the field. His signing is not just about what he brings to the team as a player, it is part of a bigger all round plan, to assist in the development of our younger players coming through. Joe leads by example, and displays all the characteristics that we want from our up and coming age-grade players.”last_img read more

first_imgMark Cueto shares his thoughts ahead of England’s Quarter FInal match against FranceOn today’s RWC Daily we catch up with the England netball team who are in New Zealand supporting their country men. Plus we’re in the hometown of All Black legend Colin Meads. England’s Mark Cueto attends a press conference at their hotel in Auckland on October 3, 2011 during the 2011 Rugby World Cup. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Donations to the Trust will be available from tomorrow afternoon, with confirmed details to be posted on the Blues website – www.theblues.co.nz‘Team Malo’ Auckland Marathon participantsPat Lam, head coachMark Harvey, head strength and conditioning coachCraig Lister, assistant managerStephen Kara, doctorMark Plummer, physiotherapistTroy Webber, video analystAsh Draper, assistant physiotherapistIain Cleland, assistant strength and conditioning coachBen Meyer, former Blues player and professional development managerJames Rigby, website manager / communications assistant Kurtis Haiu has had to indefinately hang up his boots after being diagnosed with bone cancer in AprilThe Blues coaching team demand a lot of their players during the season, expecting them to put their bodies on the line every game, but this time around it is the management who are putting in the hard yards for one of their cancer stricken players.While most of the team are enjoying some down time before pre-season training commences, head coach Pat Lam, along with a host of the Blues management team including the doctor, physiotherapist, strength and conditioning coach and video analyst, have been pounding the pavement in preparation for the Auckland Marathon on October 30.It’s all in an effort to raise funds for Blues lock Kurtis Haiu who was forced to hang up the boots indefinitely in April after being diagnosed with bone cancer. The money donated to Haiu’s Trust will be used for his ongoing treatment as well as going to his young family.By the time the Blues management team line up at the start of the 42.195 km race they will have run almost 700 km in preparation – further than the distance between Auckland’s Eden Park and Westpac Stadium in Wellington. It’s a far cry from the ritual 5km Blues management runs on game day, but Lam said it was all for an extremely worthy cause.“As a management team we always run on the morning of a game and one of the guys once mentioned doing a marathon but I said ‘don’t be stupid’ but as soon as Kurtis was diagnosed with cancer we decided we should do it for him,” Lam said.“Kurtis constantly puts his body on the line for the team and gives everything on the field, and when you consider the amount of injuries we’ve had with locks over the years with Ali Williams and Anthony Boric both ruled out for extended periods, the person who always filled that hole for the team was Kurtis. “I often talk as a coach about putting it on the line for each other and now one of my players needs help as he faces the biggest test of his life so it’s time we put our bodies on the line for him. Just training for the marathon there’s a lot of pain involved and my body aches everywhere but when you think about what Kurtis is going through it doesn’t really compare at all.”27-year-old Haiu, who made his Blues debut in 2006 and has racked up 53 caps for the franchise, said it was an incredibly kind gesture.“It’s pretty special to think they’re doing this to help me out and I’m very touched by their showing of support,” he said.“They’ll be fitter than most of the players by now so it’s going to be tough for the guys come pre-season training,” he quipped. CENTURION, SOUTH AFRICA – 19 FEBRUARY: Kurtis Haiu controls the ball during the Auckland Blues training session held at Zwartkop High School on 19th February, 2009, in Centurion, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)last_img read more

first_imgStarting XV:1.       Kieran Longbottom2.       Nathan Charles3.       Salesi Ma’afu4.       Sam Wykes5.       Nathan Sharpe6.       Angus Cottrell7.       David Pocock (Captain)8.       Matt Hodgson9.       Brett Sheehan10.   James Stannard11.   Alfie Mafi12.   Rory Sidey13.   Will Tupou14.   Nick Cummins15.   David HarveyReplacements:16.   Ben Whittaker17.   Pek Cowan18.   Toby Lynn19.   Richard Brown20.   Justin Turner21.   Winston Stanley22.   Samu Wara SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 17: The Force celebrate victory over the Waratahs after the round four Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Force at Allianz Stadium on March 17, 2012 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS “I thought our bench had a significant impact in winning the game last weekend, everyone who came on really contributed to the effort,” Graham said. “I have no doubt they will play a big role in the outcome of the game on Friday and I have tremendous confidence in our depth and the ability of everyone to have an impact when called upon.”After making an impressive debut last weekend recent signing David Harvey has again been selected at fullback although his versatility is expected to see him called upon to exert more influence in the midfield.With four of the club’s first five matches away from home the team has already spent 33 hours in the air and they haven’t yet left Australia.  That prompted Graham to prepare his side on the east coast this week to aid in recovery and ensure they’re fresh for Friday’s encounter. Western Force celebrateclose victory over Waratahs Western Force Coach Richard Graham has made only minor adjustments to his 22 man squad for the club’s clash against the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday night with dynamic winger Nick Cummins returning to the starting XV and experienced lock Toby Lynn to the reserves.After a strong statement in their one point win against the Waratahs last weekend Graham has stuck with the majority of his run-on side.  Cummins and prop Kieran Longbottom are the only changes.Longbottom, along with Pek Cowan, Nathan Charles and Salesi Ma’afu have formed a formidable front row combination in 2012 with each player making significant contributions in the opening month of the competition.“I think the performance of our front row has been wonderful and they’ve given the side real impetus at the set piece as well as around the ground,” Graham said. “We’ve been able to rotate our front row forwards in terms of starting on the ground or on the bench which has assisted in the management of those guys.“Pek Cowan is arguably the form loosehead prop in Australian rugby at the moment however given the short turnaround and his substantial workload so far this year I’ve made a rotation and looked to maximise the use of the resources available to us,” Graham said.The efforts of his entire squad last week pleased Graham who pointed to the influence of the bench as one of the catalysts for the club’s first win.  He’ll again rely on their input as they aim for back to back victories on the road.last_img read more

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS LEICESTER, ENGLAND – APRIL 30: (L to R) Manu Tuilagi, Tom Croft, Ben Youngs, Geoff Parling, Tom Youngs and Dan Cole of Leicester Tigers pictured after being announced in the British and Irish Lions squad at Oval Park on April 30, 2013 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images) Out of the shadows: Brian O’Driscoll celebrates Amlin victory with Leinster last week. He’s fit to play the Pro12 finalBy Alan DymockSTAYIN’ ALIVE by the Bee Gees was a late 70s sentiment so powerful that it generated an eponymous follow-up movie to Saturday Night Fever in which John Travolta hustles to become a Broadway star.Fast forward through a few decades and the funky lines of “Feel the city breakin’, and ev’rybody shakin’, and we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive” could well describe Dublin this Saturday as several British and Irish Lions give their all to win the the RaboDirect Pro12 title.No knees-up for him: Sean O’Brien leaves the fieldLast week Brian O’Driscoll sat out the Amlin Challenge Cup win at the RDS, with his body struggling to make it back that early. Another week has been endured and he lines up in the Pro12 final to face Ulster.Another player struggling is Sean O’Brien, hobbled by bone bruising and a knocked knee. He has failed to pulled through to play in the final, but still makes the plane to Hong Kong with the rest of the Lions. It is a tough weekend in prospect, with five Leinster Lions facing one Ulster Lion in Tommy Bowe, while six Leicester Lions face one Northampton Lion in Dylan Hartley in the Aviva Premiership final on the same day. That is a whole pride potentially in harm’s way.It must be said that this is the nature of the beast, and hard rugby begets hard rugby. The players are selected because they are big game players, and while Warren Gatland will be worried about the shakin’ game at Twickenham as two Midlands rivals roar into London, or at the RDS where two Irish factions do bloody battle, he must be proud that he has competitive players.Tigers and Lions: All six play on SaturdayIt will be a short turnaround for these players, and already it was let slip this week by Lions forwards coach Graham Rowntree that the likes of O’Brien would not be in line to play the BaaBaas in Hong Kong on June 1, even if he pulled through the Pro12 final. The finalists must survive, clamber on a plane days later and fly round the world. Some may have to play a small part in the first Lions outing – though it will be tough considering they have missed out on the intensive gelling process that other Lions have enjoyed in the last few weeks – and it does not get easier from here. One thing could be argued, though. These players cannot and will not half-heartedly wander through these finals. O’Driscoll and his boys have lost three Pro12 finals in a row and have vengeance in their hearts, particularly in Joe Schmidt’s last match in charge. Ulster have not won a trophy since 2006 and Bowe will, like any competitive winger on the grand stage, want to score in front of a delirious crowd. Leicester Tigers simply would not exist if they were not competitive every single year, such is their drive, and Hartley would scream and shout and try his hardest during a game of marbles if there was someone watching. He does not take a step back.These Saturday finals will be tough to watch if you are a Lions coach, but if all involved can stay alive and play well in a bustling, brutal final it can only add to the funk of a Lions trip.last_img read more

first_imgWinging in: Wade trains in SydneyFAST FACTSClub London WaspsAge 22 (15 May 1991)Born SloughDimensions 5ft 8in & 13st 7lbCountry EnglandTest caps One A right handful: Wasps winger Christian Wade causes the Barbarians defence problems at TwickenhamONE OF the brightest prospects in English rugby, Wade has won plaudits for his ability to terrorise defences. He’s one of the fastest wingers in the English Premiership and has a brilliant side-step – attributes he showed to great effect for Wasps against Leinster in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final. There are a few question marks over his defence, but he’s a special talent with ball in hand.WHY SELECTEDWith Tommy Bowe recovering from hand surgery and George North struggling with a hamstring strain, Warren Gatland wanted to call in extra cover out wide ahead of the Tests. He has a different skill-set to the bigger, more physical wingers in the squad.TEST PROSPECTSIt’s unlikely right now but if the injuries continue to pile up and Wade impresses when he plays in midweek, Gatland could opt for something a little different against Australia.GREATEST DAYBeating Argentina  32-3 on 6 June. The winger made a huge impact on his international debut, sparking many an attack as England achieved a comfortable four-try victory in Salta.IF HE WERE A FOODIce-cream – cool, slick and a good finish. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALScenter_img Test points NoneEvery 2013 Lions player is profiled in the July edition of Rugby World, with Lions legend Sir Ian McGeechan giving his verdict on each member of the squad. It’s on sale now.last_img read more

first_imgLuther Burell (L) of England is marked by eandro Leivas of a South American collective team during a friendly rugby match on June 2, 2013 in Montevideo. AFP PHOTO/MIGUEL ROJO (Photo credit should read MIGUEL ROJO/AFP/Getty Images) 1. Alex Corbisiero2. Rob Webber3. David Wilson4. Joe Launchbury5. Dave Attwood6. Tom Wood7. Matt Kvesic8. Ben Morgan9. Richard Wigglesworth10. Freddie Burns11. Christian Wade12. Kyle Eastmond13. Jonathan Joseph14. Jonny May15. Mike BrownCheck out David Flatman’s exclusive column about his experiences touring Argentina in 2002 in the July edition of Rugby World – on sale now! For Stuart Lancaster there is a fork in the road. He could stick with those who landed and performed instantly. He could bring in those he has trusted throughout the Six Nations. He could surprise everyone. He could take trust over form.A few weeks ago David Flatman told Rugby World the team he would like to play Argentina in the Tests. Do you agree with his choices? Should Lancaster? We will find out on Thursday at 2pm.Showman and smasher: Will Luther Burell play Argentina?Flats’ XV: LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS The unstoppable force: Billy Vunipola rattled up a hat-trick in 15 minutes against CONSUR. Will he play Argentina?By Alan DymockBLITZING PAST an amalgam of Argentinean, Uruguayan, Chilean and Brazilian players on Saturday, the England team kicked off their South American summer tour in fine style.A hat-trick was registered against the CONSUR XV by Billy Vunipola in less time than it takes to grill a steak, Ben Foden scored an impressive double and England’s pack of cattle were stampeding by the end of the match. It was, for want of a better phrase, straightforward for the tourists in their initial tour game.Now they smash into Salta for the first of two Tests with Argentina. The CONSUR team was made up of top club players in Argentina and internationals from the rest, but it is an almost misleading build-up to matches against the best of the Americas. Argentina will be a much more daunting proposition.This is where it becomes interesting for England because they must balance the ability of conquering a top Test side with their plans to develop talent for years to come. So while players like Stephen Myler, Luther Burrell and Kearnan Myall were favoured for the opener against some amateurs from a top tier nation and internationals from a third tier one, they may not run out for the second week in a row.last_img read more

first_imgToday marks a year until the opening game of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, when England will take on Fiji at Twickenham. To mark the occasion, RW has dug out some memorable moments from the previous seven tournaments, by Joshua Murray. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS 2011 – With Wales appearing in their first World Cup semi-final since 1987, expectation was building that something truly special may be on the cards. Within 18 minutes of their semi against France, that expectation seemed to disappear. Sam Warburton’s tip-tackle on French wing Vincent Clerc was deemed illegal by referee Alain Rolland, who brandished a red card to end the Welsh captain’s participation in the game. Wales fought valiantly with 14-men for over an hour, but were narrowly beaten 9-8. A disconsolate Warburton flew home days later, seated next to, (you’ve guessed it), Vincent Clerc!Follow this link to find out how to get World Cup tickets for next year! TAGS: Highlight center_img 2003 – The sight of Jonny Wilkinson sending a right-footed drop-goal through the posts at the Telstra Stadium on 22 November 2003 has been stencilled into the memories of every England rugby fan. A slightly less beautiful, but no less memorable, moment arrived earlier in the tournament, when Samoa‘s Brian Lima fully justified his nickname ‘The Chiropractor’ by delivering a bone-crunching tackle that will have left an imprint on South African fly-half Derick Hougaard’s rib cage after he’d taken a flighted pass. Thanks Joost…2007 – New Zealand’s famous haka can be one of sport’s most intimidating sights. In their home World Cup, France sought to respond to this intimidation with a memorable response of their own. The French team edged towards New Zealand, with Sebastien Chabal at the forefront, mid-war dance, before staring down their opponents down from point-blank range. Their bold strategy was a success: France went on to win the quarter-final 20-18 in a game which led to years of recriminations. 1987 – The inaugural Rugby World Cup had provided its fair share of one-sided matches by the time France and Australia met for their semi-final. With the scores locked at 24-24 after a flair-filled encounter, the scene was set for French full-back Serge Blanco to deliver the decisive blow in the final moments. Following a build-up of French pressure, Blanco received the ball 20 metres out on the left wing. Producing an electric burst of pace, Biarritz’s finest outpaced four scrambling Wallaby defenders to dive baletically in at the corner and secure a last-gasp billet to the final for Les Bleus. Sacre bleu, incroyable!1991 – Ireland took on a much-fancied Australia in their quarter-final at Lansdowne Road in 1991, in front of a vociferous Irish crowd. The ground erupted in ecstasy when flanker Gordon Hamilton finished a breakaway move to give Ireland an 18-15 lead with minutes remaining, but this time it was the Wallabies’ turn to have the final say. A wrap-around move to the right ended with Australia fly-half Michael Lynagh gathering the ball two metres out to burrow over the line just before the Irish defence could barge him into touch.1995 – Whilst the 1995 RWC in South Africa will forever be remembered for the incredible influence it had off the field for the host nation, there were also some pretty unforgettable moments on it. Of those, perhaps the most stunning was the emergence of a New Zealand winger by the name of Jonah Lomu, in his country’s semi-final with England. The All Black, who Will Carling described as a ‘freak’ after the game, scored four tries on the day, but it was the first effort – including his brutal trampling of Mike Catt – that will live longest in the memory.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPMZrPjW5cs1999 – England’s heavy defeat to New Zealand in the 1995 semi-final provoked questions about their ability to compete with the southern hemisphere giants, and the issue reared its head again after their quarter-final exit in 1999. The 44-21 defeat to reigning champions South Africa was most notable for the virtuoso performance of Springbok fly-half Jannie de Beer, who scored a world record five drop goals during the match to send Clive Woodward’s men crashing out.last_img read more

first_imgChanges for next week?Front row aside, the medics are tending to two of Scotland’s standout players in Ryan Wilson and Duncan Taylor. Even if he doesn’t have to, Cotter has indicated he may want to shuffle his deck and give all of his tourists game time. So we could see the destructive running of Dave Denton and/or Josh Strauss (John Barclay is another injury worry).Tough battle: Japan’s Rikiya Matsuda clashes with Stuart Hogg. (Photo: Getty Images)Peter Horne might be swapped with Ruaridh Jackson in the ongoing search for Finn Russell’s ideal understudy, and elsewhere in the backs Damien Hoyland deserves a second start if Cotter is still aiming for “organised chaos”. If he is, there’s an argument for giving Henry Pyrgos a start ahead of Laidlaw, but Cotter isn’t much of a gambler and will want to keep the spine of his team intact.The bench may well see some changes, in particular getting Edinburgh-born Stormers centre Huw Jones a first cap to tie him to Scotland. Super Scot: Ryan Wilson, one of Scotland’s stand-out players, on the attack v Japan. (Photo: Getty Images) Open wide: Greig Laidlaw sets up an attack, something Scotland could do more. (Photo: Getty Images)Get it moving, GreigOn the other hand, Scottish captain Greig Laidlaw wasn’t there to entertain, but to play Test match rugby. He milked (and kicked) every penalty he could get from favourable referee Ben O’ Keeffe and although the final scoreline was comfortable, Scotland never really got out of second gear.The speed of the Japanese defensive line put the Scots under constant pressure. Frequently, the ball was placed back by a tackled player with Laidlaw still some way off. With the defence reset, big carriers like the Ryan Wilson and the Gray brothers found it much harder to punch holes and build momentum to unleash the backs.At times it was too ponderous, never more so than during the Munster-style keep ball to run down the clock in the final minutes. With the win already secure, where’s the ambition? Smart start: Japan’s Shota Horie scores an early try v Scotland. (Photo: Getty Images)Front row depth will be testedTry-scorer WP Nel left the game just past the hour mark with a knee injury, while stalwart loosehead Al Dickinson went off after just three minutes. The rejuvenated Moray Low should be able to fill in if required although Nel said after the game that he should recover in time. Rory Sutherland had a good enough 77 minutes to earn a start ahead of Gordon Reid who has been called up to the tour in place of Dickinson. Scotland trailed for much of the first half of their first Test on tour in Japan, but came back to lead 16-10 at half-time and ended up winning 26-13. Rory Baldwin suggests what might be learned from this hard-fought match. Things are a little less clear cut at hooker, where Stuart McInally had a wobbly day at the set piece, misfiring on a few throws and getting his positioning wrong on an attacking lineout close to the Japanese line when, had he gathered Wilson’s pop pass, he would have had a great scoring chance. However the converted back row put in some big tackles, and showed the ball-carrying ability that makes him perhaps the most well-rounded challenger to Ross Ford – if he can sort the lineout. Fraser Brown played well off the bench too and Ford could potentially recover from injury to earn his 100th cap. Scotland coach Vern Cotter has at least one pleasant selection problem ahead of the second Test. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS TAGS: Japan If Japan control their discipline, it will be a much tighter game The hosts had two yellow cards, were down to 13 men at one point and conceded 16 penalties including a penalty try for Rikiya Matsuda’s slap down of a try-scoring pass to Tommy Seymour. They were penalised for technical offences right the way through.If they can cut that from their game in the second Test, it will be a much closer affair next weekend in Tokyo despite the continued absence of Rugby World Cup stars Michael Leitch and Ayumu Goromaru. The dynamic duo of Amanaki Mafi and Hendrik Tui will always keep Scotland honest at the breakdown, and if Japan improve their concentration in terms of discipline and handling next week, Scotland will need to step it up a level or two to win the series in the comfort they would like to. Japan know how they want to playLuckily for Scotland the Brave Blossoms only really clicked once during the first Test, and that was ten minutes in. Scrum-half Kaito Shigeno launched a superb counter-attacking try that will have Scotland defence coach Matt Taylor in tears, but it delighted the home crowd at the Toyota Stadium.The buzz from the crowd whenever Japan attempted to run the ball – which was always, even with just 36% possession overall – showed the way the fans want their team to play. When it works as it did under Eddie Jones in the World Cup, it is highly entertaining, but they did not execute sufficiently well to get past a dogged Scottish team on Saturday.last_img read more

first_imgThe Champions Cup is closest the club game gets to Test level intensity and there will be a clutch of players looking to impress over the next two weekends LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS On trial: Garry Ringrose’s partnership with Robbie Henshaw is showing promise Garry Ringrose, Leinster and IrelandIt’s almost a certainty that Ringrose’s midfield colleague Robbie Henshaw will start for Ireland next month but who he is partnered with is still up for debate.The chemistry between Henshaw and Ringrose has been encouraging since Henshaw made the move from Connacht earlier this year and the duo coped particularly well with the pressure of the derby match against Munster at the weekend.Future Ireland midfield: Garry Ringrose is adding experience to immense talentIf Ringrose can take that form into this weekend’s match with Castres and continue to dovetail well with Henshaw, then there’s no reason why he cannot make his Ireland bow in November. The Castres defence has been one of the most reliable and efficient units in the Top 14 so far this season, so the challenge won’t be easy for Ringrose but if he’s successful, it will further boost his fast-rising profile.Nathan Hughes and Elliot Daly, Wasps and EnglandA year ago, it seemed as if Hughes’ selection would be automatic for England once he qualified no residency, but the continued high-level performances of Chris Robshaw and Billy Vunipola have cast some doubt on that. Throw in Hughes being used off the bench a number of times this season by Wasps and it feels like he needs a big game or two to really push for selection.Catch me if you can: Elliot Daly is a thrilling broken-field runnerAs for Daly, Jonathan Joseph seems well-entrenched at outside centre but with Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell both suffering injuries, he could be an option on the wing, having experience of playing there for Wasps and a booming boot that would certainly be of benefit to England’s tactical kicking game.A dominant display against Zebre on Saturday probably would not be enough on its own, but if they can back it up a week later when they head to Toulouse, it could be enough to get Jones thinking.Lewis Wynne, Glasgow Warriors and ScotlandCould Wynne become the youngest flanker to be capped by Scotland in 48 years? By Alex ShawThe European Rugby Champions Cup makes its 2016-17 bow this weekend and as early as round one, offers up a mouth-watering array of match-ups.Intensity is ratcheted up as Europe’s best go head-to-head and it’s the closest replica of Test rugby that you will find outside of the international arena.As a result, it’s the perfect proving ground for players who are intent on making a positive impression ahead of the looming Test window.We take a look at some of the players who could have an international agenda this weekend.James Davies and Scott Williams, Scarlets and WalesAs the only region in the Champions Cup, Wales’ pool of players to watch is a little smaller than usual, but no less significant. The Scarlets have had a miserable start to the season as they attempt to try and rediscover their 2015-16 form, but with their tight five struggling, it’s been a difficult season for the back row and back line.Coming into form: Scott Williams will be expected to provide dynamism in midfieldWith Sam Warburton injured and in a race against time to be fit for the Test window, Davies has an opportunity against Sale this weekend to put down a marker for his inclusion. If Warburton cannot return to fitness in time, Davies will have to contend with Justin Tipuric and Ellis Jenkins for the jersey and the Champions Cup gives him the platform to make his claim.Life isn’t too much fun for an inside centre when the tight five can’t get you on the front foot but Williams will be hoping the Scarlets can buck that trend against Sale and let him showcase his ability on Saturday. He will be up against Jamie Roberts for selection and causing Sale problems defensively will do his international ambitions no harm at all.Courtney Lawes, Northampton Saints and EnglandThe hard-hitting second row is beginning to get back to his best following a year of frustrating injuries in the 2015-16 season. With all indications suggesting Eddie Jones will move Maro Itoje to openside for the duration of the November Tests, there is potentially an opening arising in England’s engine room.On the hoof: Courtney Lawes has to impress in the Champions Cup fortnightBarring injury or unforeseen circumstances, it would seem to be a head-to-head competition between Lawes and Joe Launchbury and a strong showing against the formidable Montpellier pack could see Lawes sneak ahead of the Wasps lock. Lawes’ ability to disrupt – at both the lineout and in the opposition midfield – is a rare trait and there is no doubt that Jones enjoys the edge that the Northampton second row plays with.If Lawes can find success against Jake White’s Montpellier pack, he could be in line to face White’s countrymen at Twickenham next month. TAGS: Highlight The 19-year-old has certainly caught the eye with his performances for Glasgow so far this year and is following in the footsteps of teammate Zander Fagerson by making an impact at Pro12 level as a teenager. With Gregor Townsend set to take over the reins with Scotland in the near future, the Glasgow coach would likely not be averse to seeing one of his brightest charges given an early call-up to the international arena.Making an impression: Lewis Wynne has impressed for Glasgow so farGlasgow welcome Leicester to Scotstoun and head to Thomond Park to take on Munster over the next two weekends and if Wynne can impress against those two powerful packs, then international rugby is not out of the question.last_img read more