England have earned the right to be considered among the favourites for the Rugby World Cup, according to Lawrence Dallaglio.

Eddie Jones' side, along with top-ranked Ireland, Six Nations Grand Slam champions Wales and Rugby Championship winners South Africa, have been tipped as the most likely sides to challenge holders New Zealand in Japan.

England crashed out of their home World Cup at the first hurdle in 2015 but will aim to make amends this time around.

They start their campaign against Tonga on Sunday, before facing the United States, Argentina and France, with Jones' men having lost just twice – both times against Wales – in 2019.

Dallaglio lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2003 and sees no reason why England cannot go on to claim rugby's top prize once more.

"They've set the bar high," the former England captain told Omnisport, speaking on behalf of Land Rover, Official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019.

"There's always expectation with England in any sport, particularly rugby. We've got a history in rugby of doing well and I think they've earned that right quite frankly.

"I think the progression under Jones has been there right the way from 2015 when he declared he didn't feel we had enough world-class players.

"But I think on that journey over the last four years, you look at the team now and it's packed full of top-class international rugby players who have won Grand Slams, they've won the title a few times and domestic and European honours. So I think we can rightly go into this World Cup in Japan cautiously optimistic.

"They know they are capable of beating any of the sides in the world as they showed in Dublin in the Six Nations, as they showed in the first half against New Zealand and as they've shown in games more recently against Ireland.

"We're contenders, we're challengers and New Zealand are the team to beat. But we've got a chance."

Pressed on what else England need to do to prove their credentials, Dallaglio conceded a World Cup triumph may be required.

"How do you measure success in a side? It's what you win, tangibly," he added.

"This England team have a won a couple of Slams, they've equalled the world record for international victories under Jones, so I think the one thing they need to do is win a World Cup.

"To do that away from home would be some achievement. I'm really excited about their prospects, I'm looking forward to it. It's wide open."

Eddie Jones stressed the importance of England getting their tactics spot on against a "ferocious" Tonga outfit in their Rugby World Cup opener on Sunday.

After a group-stage exit at the last World Cup, England go into their tournament bow in Sapporo expected to be among the top challengers to holders New Zealand this time around.

The 2003 champions won three of their four warm-up matches after coming second in the Six Nations and will contest a competitive Pool C that contains Argentina, France and United States as well as their initial opponents.

"The focus this week has been about getting right for Tonga," head coach Jones said ahead of the match.

"We have had a good seven days in Japan where we have acclimatised really well. Now it is about putting in a game plan against Tonga and it is important to be tactically right. We know they are going to be ferocious and full of pride and passion. 

"They are a side if they get a bit of momentum they can be very dangerous and are well-coached by Toutai Kefu. We will need to be at our best.

"There is a good feeling about the place - I don't think there is anyone who isn't excited about getting out there."

George Ford will start at fly-half for England, with Owen Farrell captain at inside centre. Joe Marler is at loose-head prop with Mako Vunipola out.

Billy Vunipola, though, will line up against Tonga 20 years after his father and uncle represented the Pacific islanders against England in a World Cup contest.

This will be the third meeting between the teams, with the previous two – both at World Cups – having been won by England in convincing fashion with a combined score of 137-30.

England are looking for a seventh straight win in a Rugby World Cup opener and have not lost one since a defeat to New Zealand back in 1991.

The omens do not look great for Tonga, who have won only three of their last 10 World Cup encounters and come into the event with just one win from their last seven Test outings.

Distinguished former Australia international Kefu leads a squad that retains only four of the 23 players who lined up in their last World Cup match against New Zealand in 2015.

One of that quartet is Kurt Morath, the country's all-time leading points scorer with 340 and one of seven English-based players in the team. 

Key front-rower and the heaviest player in World Cup history, Ben Tameifuna, returns to the XV after being rested from a chastening 92-7 loss to the All Blacks two weeks ago.
 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England – Ben Youngs 

Ben Youngs, 30, will earn his 90th cap and become the first scrum-half to play in three World Cups for England.

His experience will be vital with England naming a XV that is their second-youngest ever at a World cup, including flankers Tom Curry and Sam Underhill. Youngs scored a try in his last Test outing against Italy this month.

Tonga - Nasi Manu

Nasi Manu has been named among Tonga's replacements and if he takes to the field it will be an emotional moment. The number eight did not play for club Benetton or his country in 2018 and could play his first Test since recovering from cancer, having undergone months of chemotherapy.

"I had tears just then," he said after Tonga's welcome ceremony. "I don't think anybody knows just how much I have been through to get here. Not only the surgery and chemotherapy, but also the physical battle to get myself in good enough shape." 


KEY OPTA FACTS

- England have won only two of their last five games at Rugby World Cups, including a 60-3 triumph over Uruguay in their most recent fixture.

- England have surpassed 40 points scored in a game on three occasions thus far in 2019; the last time they did so more times in a calendar year was in 2003 (7), including two instances in their triumphant 2003 campaign.

- No player has scored more Test tries thus far in 2019 than England flyer Jonny May, whose six tries are level with German Kessler Lordon (Uruguay) and Joe Taufete'e (USA).

- Siale Piutau's next appearance will be his 40th in Test rugby for Tonga, becoming just the fourth Tongan to reach the mark.

- Kurt Morath (73) has scored more points at the Rugby World Cup than any other player for Tonga, including a 28-point haul during the group stage of the 2015 tournament.

Joe Schmidt believes the enthusiasm and confidence of Jordan Larmour, Andrew Conway and Jacob Stockdale will be "contagious" for Ireland in their opening Rugby World Cup clash with Scotland.

The trio will start in the backs in Yokohama on Sunday, with Ireland having decided against risking experienced duo Keith Earls and Rob Kearney, who have been out with respective calf and thigh injuries.

Kearney's club-mate Robbie Henshaw will also miss out, though the three players are in contention to return against hosts Japan in Ireland's second Pool A match.

Schmidt, who will leave his post in charge of the world's number one side after the tournament, has no doubt Larmour, Conway and Stockdale will repay his faith, however.

"Their enthusiasm is something that's contagious, their ability to get themselves into the game," Schmidt said.

"Andrew has proven that he's got real aerial ability and that will be really useful for us. I still have the vision in my mind clearly of Jordan beating Israel Folau to a ball in the in the third Test in Sydney on our Australian tour so he is very good there as well.

"Jacob, of course, is a big man in the backfield. So, they're all feeding off each other. They're all young men who are very, very keen to impress. The best continuity, we felt, was to have the guys who have trained through the time that we've been here."

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, meanwhile, is buoyed by the experience his side will be able to call on for what is just the second World Cup meeting between the teams.

"I have seen the way they have trained and acted over the last few days," he said. "We have had two of our best ever training sessions, so as a coach, you get excited.

"I also see the experience we have in our squad and that counts for a lot in big games. This will be the first time that this team have all been fit and available. We are missing two or three players but to get a squad that has this experience for such a big game is a real bonus.

"Experience is important. Experience with form - recent form - and really good physical shape makes it even more valuable, and that is what we have with this group this weekend."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ireland – Jacob Stockdale

Having been entrusted to start, World Cup debutant Stockdale will be eager to make his mark.

The 23-year-old gained the most metres – 395 in total – of any player in the 2019 Six Nations, while also beating 23 defenders, more than any other player in the competition.

Scotland – Greig Laidlaw

If Scotland are to claim a positive result, their kicking game will likely be key, making scrum-half Laidlaw their main man for this one.

Laidlaw is on 695 points in total in Tests, with only Chris Paterson ahead of him in the Scottish record books.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Ireland have won six of their last seven games against Scotland, including their last two on the bounce.

- Scotland have opened each of their last four men's Rugby World Cup campaigns with a win, including a 45-10 triumph over this year's hosts Japan in the 2015 edition.

- The only previous World Cup encounter between Ireland and Scotland ended in a 24-15 win for the latter side in October 1991.

- Ireland have won the opening match of their last five men's Rugby World Cup tournaments, having lost their opening game at two of the three editions before this run.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick cut a news conference short after refusing to answer questions about Antonio Brown.

The Patriots' wide receiver has been embroiled in controversy since his arrival in Foxborough, with the 31-year-old's former personal trainer having accused Brown of sexual assault and rape in a civil lawsuit, while a second unidentified woman has also made allegations of sexual misconduct.

Brown has strongly denied the allegations through his attorney and he opted against discussing the matter further when he was questioned on Thursday in his first public comments since the allegations.

It emerged late on Thursday that the anonymous woman alleges Brown has sent threatening text messages to her following the accusations.

Belichick began his media conference on Friday with a statement on the Patriots' upcoming encounter with the New York Jets, before addressing Brown's situation.

"I know there are questions about Antonio," Belichick said. "We take all the situations with our team very seriously.

"There are some things we're looking into, but I'm not going to have any comment on any off-the-field situations or questions on that. Anything about football, I'm happy to answer." 

Vince Carter has re-signed for the Atlanta Hawks to begin his record-breaking 22nd NBA season aged 42.

The eight-time All-Star has been in the league since 1998, having been drafted fifth overall by the Toronto Raptors.

Carter was the Rookie of the Year in his first season and is set to become the first NBA player to feature in 22 campaigns.

He will also be the first to play in four different decades when he steps on the court in 2020, while his 1,481 career games put him first among active players and fifth all-time.

After lengthy stints with the Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets - then the New Jersey Nets - Carter has had short stops with the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings.

He joined the Hawks ahead of the 2018-19 season and averaged 7.4 points in 17.5 minutes per game across 76 appearances.

Carter, who won gold with the United States at the 2000 Olympic Games, confirmed in May he would be looking to return for the coming campaign.

Inter head coach Antonio Conte believes Italian football's "hate" culture has worsened since he returned to Serie A.

Cagliari fans subjected Inter striker Romelu Lukaku to monkey chants before he took a penalty when the sides met in Serie A on September 2.

On Monday Italian television station TopCalcio24 dropped pundit Luciano Passirani and apologised after he made a racist comment about Lukaku.

Conte resumed his management career in his homeland when he joined Inter in May following two seasons in the Premier League with Chelsea.

The 50-year-old was speaking at a news conference on Friday ahead of their San Siro clash with city rivals AC Milan, which has been called the 'Derby Against Racism'.

"I came back after three years and found everything worse," Conte said.

"A lot of hatred, resentment. It is only to insult and foment hatred. This is very bad. This exists in Italy and is getting worse and worse.

"I had the luck to have an experience in England, where they throw them [supporters] in jail and throw away the keys, they don't come to the stadium anymore.

"We need to improve. That's why in England you see families at the stadium. I repeat: we have to improve everyone.”

Conte also took a swipe at the media and claimed they perpetuate the problem to a large degree by stoking up rivalries.

He continued: "I found an Italy worsened to the nth degree and we are all guilty. Including you [the media] who are sitting there. We are not exempt.

"It is easy to make articles after something has happened and to put yourself on the side of reason. 

"They are articles that foster lack of respect. We will all have to do an examination of conscience. I repeat: I had been absent for three years, I found something multiplied many times. 

"I think it is anti-educational towards the generations that are coming because they are born in front of the keyboard reading hate and violence.

"The solution would be to send positive messages. Do not stir up violence and accentuate the rivalry.

"I think that communication has a very important role in this because the reader can read hatred or positive things and can continue on a certain wave."

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has confirmed Nico Hulkenberg is not being considered for a seat alongside Max Verstappen in the 2020 Formula One season.

Hulkenberg is without a team for next year after Renault signed Esteban Ocon, while a mooted move to Haas did not come to pass as Romain Grosjean's services were retained this week.

Haas boss Guenther Steiner explained on Friday: "We talked with [Hulkenberg] and, in the end, decided to go with Romain."

Appearing alongside Steiner at a news conference at the Singapore Grand Prix, Alfa Romeo's Frederic Vasseur and Red Bull chief Horner were also asked about the possibility of bringing in Hulkenberg.

"We are focused with Antonio [Giovinazzi]," said Vasseur.

Red Bull's second driver for next season remains uncertain. However, Horner insisted they will choose between Alex Albon, who holds the seat, and Toro Rosso duo Daniil Kyvat and Pierre Gasly.

"We don't need to be in any rush," Horner said. "All the drivers that are under consideration are under contract, so we're in a unique position where we don't need to rush anything.

"So we'll take the fullness of time to look and evaluate the progress of Alex and measure it against Dany and Pierre.

"Nico isn't on our list. He's a great driver and it would be a great shame not to see him continue in Formula One next year.

"He's a professional driver that arguably hasn't achieved his potential in Formula One.

"I very much hope for him that he does find a seat because he's better than some other drivers that are on the grid and he should be in Formula One."

Red Bull were primed to challenge in Singapore with Verstappen performing well in practice on Friday.

The Dutchman was fastest in FP1 with a time of one minute, 40.259 seconds, just ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

Charles Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas retired early from that session, with the latter crashing into the barrier at turn 19.

Lewis Hamilton then edged out Verstappen by 0.184secs in FP2, running a best time of 1:38.773.

AC Milan are set to launch an anti-racism task force to tackle discrimination in Italian football.

Milan's initiative had been several months in planning but, following several high-profile incidents in Italian football, they accelerated matters to launch at the Derby della Madonnina against bitter rivals Inter on Saturday.

The contest has been rebranded the "Derby Against Racism", as the Rossoneri aim to "demonstrate solidarity with some of the most high-profile targets of the negative behaviour".

The decision to bring the announcement forward comes in the wake of Milan midfielder Franck Kessie and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku suffering alleged racist abuse during matches in September.

An Italian football pundit was also suspended from television show TopCalcio24 for using a racist remark when praising the performances of Lukaku.

Announcing the campaign, Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis said: "Italian football needs to wake up and take a strong stance against racist behaviour.

"AC Milan will take a leadership position on this issue, promoting basic human values that are relevant to us all. Football provides a powerful example of the strength of unity and teamwork.

"Diversity, inclusion and tolerance enhance the strength of the team, the club and of society as a whole. We believe that we have a moral obligation to do everything we can to address this issue.

"This first significant step aims to visibly demonstrate that we will be proactive in our efforts to tackle racism in football. These values transcend football rivalries and we are delighted to have the support of Inter for this initiative."

Sam Stosur has the chance to land her first WTA title since 2017 when she takes on Sofia Kenin in the final of the Guangzhou International Women's Open on Saturday.

The Australian, the 2011 US Open champion, hit back to see off Viktorija Golubic 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 on Friday and advance to her first title match since Strasbourg in 2017.

"I just tried to hang in there and find a way to start playing a bit better," said Stosur, who will return next week to the world's top 100 as a result of her run in China.

"She's very tough to play against so I'm just happy to get through. 

"This is where everyone wants to be, so to now make it to the final, I'm really happy and I'll give it my best shot on Saturday."

Third-seeded American Kenin also required three sets to battle past Anna Blinkova 7-6 (7-2) 4-6 6-1.

In Seoul, second seed Ekaterina Alexandrova overcame being a break down in the deciding set to beat Kristie Ahn 6-7 (0-7) 6-4 6-4.

The big-serving Russian, who fired down 22 aces, will meet fourth seed Magda Linette in the semi-finals. Linette was an impressive 6-2 6-3 victor over Kirsten Flipkens.

The other last-four clash pits Karolina Muchova against Wang Yafan.

Muchova beat Priscilla Hon 6-3 6-3 while Wang dropped just four games in easing past Paula Badosa.

Ashely Giles is thrilled Eoin Morgan elected to stay on as ODI captain following England's triumphant Cricket World Cup campaign.

Morgan led England to their maiden success in a 50-over World Cup in July, with the final settled in dramatic fashion at Lord's – the tournament hosts edging out New Zealand in a super over.

Following the tournament, the 33-year-old suggested he was undecided as to whether he should stay on as captain of the limited-overs side.

However, the ECB confirmed on Friday that Morgan would remain in charge and Giles is delighted with the batsman's decision with England now having the T20 World Cup in their sights.

"Eoin took some time to decide whether, all things considered, it was right to continue," Giles told Sky Sports.

"It didn't take him too long, thankfully. I'm delighted, he's been a great leader for us and with us losing [coach] Trevor Bayliss as well it's great for the team and the environment that he's staying on.

"Having one of those two guys still there gives us consistency and now we can look to perhaps go with the team we've got and to hold two white-ball trophies within a year would be a great achievement."

Bayliss called time on his tenure as England coach across all formats at the end of the Ashes series, but Giles is confident a replacement will be finalised within the coming weeks.

"I see one coach leading the whole thing. I've been part of a set-up where there are two coaches and role-playing that out, for me, it doesn't end particularly well," Giles told BBC Sport.

"If we have one head coach and some very good assistants, we are going to have to look after those guys well. The head coach would have some time off, so it's an opportunity for those assistants to lead in different forms.

"I hope we have a shortlist in a week to 10 days and we will go through interviews. We won't rush it but it would be nice to have someone in place before we leave for New Zealand."

Giles also added Alex Hales – who was dropped ahead of the World Cup due to an "off-field incident" – should not give up hope of returning to the fold despite not being given a central contract.

"The door isn't closed. He's a very fine short-format player," Giles said. "He needs to keep working hard and getting the runs - but if he does that, who knows?"

Jose Mourinho has refused to declare any interest in a return to Real Madrid out of respect for Zinedine Zidane.

Since replacing Santiago Solari during the second half of last season, Zidane has failed to rekindle the magic that saw him bring three consecutive Champions League titles to the Santiago Bernabeu between 2016 and 2018.

Wednesday's humbling 3-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in Europe's top competition led to fresh questions about his future, although former Madrid boss Mourinho declined to put himself forward as an alternative during an interview with Deportes Cuatro on Friday.

"There are two types of rumours. One, when one speaks about Zidane, who is one of ours and it hurts us when our teams aren't going well," he said.

"You have to live with it. Zidane is in football all his life and he knows it. The other type of rumour is to put my name in there and I don't like that. There are problems in many places, but another thing is [to have] respect.

"I wouldn't like to return [to Madrid] because they have a manager and I can't coach a team who have a manager.

"You can speak with respect about the club but also about the manager, who isn't just anyone.

"I am out of it. I'm not just blowing smoke. I would like that things turn out well and everything gets fixed."

In fact, Mourinho pointed to the early standings in LaLiga, where Madrid are ahead of champions Barcelona by a point and can overtake leaders Sevilla with victory at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan this weekend, to suggest the picture in the Spanish capital is not as gloomy as some make out.

"They're third or fourth, no? Close to being first. It's not bad," he said.

"If you look at if pragmatically, if you focus on the table, they're right there.

"Now, they play Sevilla and if they win, they go ahead of them. Barcelona are behind them and Atletico are a point ahead."

Mourinho suggested he could be ready to take his talents elsewhere when he goes back to work, with a piece of information that is unlikely to go unnoticed in the Bundesliga's upper echelons.

"Now, I am in German classes in case one day I end up there, or so I can speak one day in this language for a Champions League game," he added.

"It will be my sixth language."

Riyad Mahrez's love of the ball is starting to pay dividends, says Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

City signed Algeria winger Mahrez from Leicester City for what was then a club-record fee of £60million in July last year.

Although the 28-year-old netted the pivotal third goal in City's 4-1 final-day win at Brighton and Hove Albion to seal the Premier League title, he spent much of his debut campaign on the periphery of Guardiola's first XI.

But Leroy Sane's knee injury and a comparatively slow start this time around from City's player of the year for 2018-19, Bernardo Silva, has handed Mahrez a more prominent role.

He opened the scoring in Wednesday's 3-0 Champions League win at Shakhtar Donetsk – an authoritative response following last weekend's shock 3-2 loss at Norwich City – and Guardiola finds something of a kindred spirit in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations winner.

"When he played last season he played good, except maybe the first few games, but it's normal," he said ahead of Saturday's home game against Watford.

"We knew the quality and especially the mentality. How competitive he is, it surprised me a lot.

"There is one detail - he loves to play football, he loves the training sessions, he loves to be in contact with the ball.

"I like this type of player. He goes to the training session on the pitch and immediately takes the ball to have fun with the ball. That maybe is a stupid detail but I like it."

Despite failing to win too many plaudits last season, Guardiola insists Mahrez has never lacked for self-belief – to the extent he is not always the most receptive member of the City squad when it comes to regular rotation.

"He is a guy who I think doesn't feel too much pressure. It doesn't matter where he plays, he has a lot of confidence in himself.

"If he makes two bad actions, he goes 'give me the ball, give me the ball – I am going to try again'. That is the best detail for the players on the big, big stages. It is the most difficult to find.

"The only thing he has to improve is to be a bit more relaxed when he doesn’t play. The rest is top."

In that regard, Guardiola suggested Mahrez should follow the example of Gabriel Jesus.

The Brazil striker grasped his opportunity to start versus Shakhtar by completing the scoring, although the presence of club great Sergio Aguero means the bench if never too far away.

"It's difficult to find in Europe, in the world, a striker like Gabriel," Guardiola said. "How important he is, a number nine for Brazil.

"He's an incredibly top player, a young player. His behaviour in the training sessions is outstanding.

"He has to handle fighting in his position against a legend – one of the best strikers I have ever seen in my life, Aguero.

"It is not easy to accept this role and he accepts it. That's why I am over the moon with him.

"In the last two years Sergio has been incredible how he fights for the team, but I know when [Jesus] plays he does absolutely everything.

"He is a young, young striker. The future for this club is incredible."

Cheslea head coach Frank Lampard remains optimistic midfielder Mason Mount will be fit for their Premier League clash with Liverpool.

Mount, 20, sustained an ankle injury sustained in Chelsea's defeat to Valencia in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Chelsea's medical staff will make the final call on Mount's involvement but Lampard is hopeful he will be available to face Jurgen Klopp's side on Sunday.

"He has got a chance. The image of the tackle made it look really bad," Lampard said, at his media conference ahead of the match at Stamford Bridge.

"Hopefully it is not so bad, we are trying to get him moving today, it is one that I will have to call later on before the game. 

"We are trying, the good thing about Mason is his attitude is so good that he will give everything to play for this club. We will have every opportunity to try to get him there.

"There was a lot of swelling, it didn't look the best. Injuries with the ankle, from my experience, if there is proper damage there is not much you can do. If it's swollen you strap it up. 

"We won't take any risks, there is a bigger picture, we will do our best."

 

Chelsea's midfield options for the visit of the Premier League leaders have been strengthened by N'Golo Kante's return to training.

Kante has not featured since Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Leicester on August 18 and has missed their last three matches with an ankle injury.

The 28-year-old France midfielder struggled with injuries in recent months having been absent most of Chelsea's pre-season with a knee problem.

"It is a boost, we know the importance of him for any team that he plays in. The quality that he brings," added Lampard.

"The question is how fit he is. He has had a long time out now since the back-end of last season.

"He has played a couple of games, but you can't count that as much because he missed pre-season.

"Now we have to manage him, similar to Mason, with the bigger picture. It's great to have him back around us."

Japan coach Jamie Joseph acknowledged the pressure of hosting the Rugby World Cup led to a nervous performance from his side against Russia.

Tournament hosts Japan won 30-10 in the opening match on Friday, though trailed for much of the first half following Kirill Golosnitskiy's early try.

Kotaro Matsushima stole the show with a hat-trick, however, edging Japan in front prior to the interval having previously reduced the deficit, before rounding off the victory in the second half.

But Brave Blossoms coach Joseph conceded Japan found it hard to cope with the pressure in Tokyo.

"The game showed that the boys were nervous, as we spoke about before the game, there's so much expectation on the guys," said Joseph, who replaced current England coach Eddie Jones as Japan's boss.

"I thought we prepared well for it but it's not until you get out there amongst it and then you realise just how much pressure there is on the guys.

"I'm proud of the way they came through it in the end. We made a lot of unforced errors, our kicking game was pretty poor tonight so we’ll have to fix that up quickly.

"But you’ve got to take your hat off to the Russian guys because they really took it to us and put us under a lot of pressure.

"Tactically we didn't change a lot. We managed to take the sting out of the Russian offence, they looked a little bit tired and we just managed to execute a bit better and took our chances."

Japan captain Michael Leitch echoed Joseph's sentiments, though believes the Brave Blossoms are now well prepared to face the world's number one side Ireland next up in Pool A.

"Straight away they put us under some extreme pressure with their gameplan and physicality, they really tested us," Leitch said.

"There were big nerves, 100 per cent. First game out of the way and we can start looking forward to Ireland.

"I'm happy, we showed great resilience to not go into our shell and keep playing. I think we're in the right spot to take on Ireland."

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