Ireland centre Garry Ringrose has been ruled out of their Six Nations trip to Italy after failing to overcome a calf injury in time.

Ringrose suffered the problem during their week two victory over holders France but was named in the starting XV for Saturday's game at Stadio Olimpico.

He has failed to overcome the issue however and has now been withdrawn, with Stuart McCloskey now in line to start and utility back Jimmy O'Brien elevated to the bench.

Andy Farrell will hope Ringrose recovers in time to take part in their final two games next month, against Scotland and England.

Ringrose had been in line to win his 50th cap for Ireland in this weekend's fixture and was looking to score on his third consecutive visit to Rome.

The centre has been a standout performer for Ireland in the Six Nations too, beating more defenders than any of his team-mates in the tournament so far, on eight occasions.

Ireland will be expected to stay in the hunt for a Grand Slam when they resume the Six Nations against Italy while Scotland's title credentials will face a stern test in Paris.

Andy Farrell's Ireland side showed why they are the top-ranked team in the world by halting France's long winning streak with a 32-19 victory at the Aviva Stadium before the break.

The leaders ought to make it three wins out of three at the expense of Italy at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday before third-placed England take on wounded Wales at the Principality Stadium.

Scotland followed up their win over England by hammering Wales and will be braced for a response from defending champions France in what should be an entertaining contest at Stade de France on Sunday.

Stats Perform previews the three tussles with the help of some standout Opta data.

 

ITALY v IRELAND

FORM

The Ireland juggernaut will take some stopping, with their winning run now at seven matches.

They have come out on top in 19 of their past 21 Tests, losing only to France and New Zealand last year in that period. Farrell's ruthless men have averaged 4.4 tries per game in those 21 matches.

In his 32 Tests in charge, Farrell has a 78 per cent win rate – the best of any Ireland head coach to have been at the helm for two or more games.

Italy have lost each of their 23 home games in the Six Nations since beating Ireland in Rome in 2013. After almost pulling off a shock against France in the opening round, they suffered a 31-14 loss to England last time out.

ONES TO WATCH

Italy powerhouse Sebastian Negri has made 30 carries in the Six Nations this year, the joint-most along with Scotland playmaker Finn Russell. He must play a big part if the Azzurri are to trouble Ireland.

Garry Ringrose will win his 50th cap for Ireland. On the six occasions the centre has faced Italy, he has scored three tries – two of those coming in his past two trips to Rome. 

Ringrose has been more defenders than any other Ireland player in the tournament so far, doing so eight times.

WALES v ENGLAND

FORM

The start of Warren Gatland's second spell as Wales head coach has not gone to plan, losing twice and having to contend with a dispute over contracts that resulted in the threat of strike action from players this weekend.

Gatland has made nine changes after it was confirmed the game will go ahead in Cardiff, where Wales will attempt to avoid starting the tournament with three straight defeats for only the third time – having previously done so in 2003 and 2007.

England got their first win under head coach Steve Borthwick against Italy and will be looking to avoid a third successive away loss to Wales.

The Red Rose have won seven of their last nine meetings with Wales, though, with the previous six of those coming by a margin of no more than six points.

ONES TO WATCH

Gatland has dropped big names such as Dan Biggar, Liam Williams and George North after the heavy loss to Scotland.

Josh Adams is among the players who have retained his place, though, and the wing could help to lift the gloom. The flyer and Ken Owens have made four dominant tackles apiece in the tournament, with only seven players have produced that many. 

Alex Dombrandt will start at number eight once again for England, having made more effective contributions at defensive rucks than any other player in the Six Nations with seven. 

He has won two jackal turnovers and slowed down a further five rucks, so he can make his presence felt again.

FRANCE v SCOTLAND

FORM 

Scotland put on another show to see off Wales, turning on the style at a raucous Murrayfield after winning a thriller against England.

They won on their most recent visit to the French capital, defeating Les Bleus 27-23 in 2021. Scotland have not won back-to-back games in Paris since 1967-1969.

France have won 18 of their past 19 Test matches on home soil, including nine in a row. Their only loss during that time was that one at the hands of Scotland. 

A victory this weekend would give them a 10th straight home win for the first time since 1986-1989.

ONES TO WATCH

Damian Penaud finished superbly to score for France in their loss to Ireland. 

The wing has beaten 15 defenders in his two appearances in this tournament and another livewire display could be on the cards.

Russell produced a masterclass against Wales and Scotland will need him to pull the strings once again. 

The fly-half has made three line-break assists and also laid on three tries in the tournament so far and there should be more to come.

Craig Casey and Ross Byrne will make their first Six Nations starts for Ireland when they travel to Rome to face Italy on Saturday.

With Johnny Sexton out with a groin injury and Conor Murray dropped to the bench, Casey and Byrne will pair at half-back as coach Andy Farrell makes six changes to the team that beat France last time out.

Ronan Kelleher replaces Rob Herring at hooker, while Jack Conan comes in for Peter O'Mahony and Bundee Aki earns a start after coming off the bench in the first two games, replacing Stuart McCloskey.

Dan Sheehan is fit again and has been named among the replacements.

James Ryan will captain the side in Sexton's absence as Ireland look to make it three wins from three following victories against Wales and France.

Ireland have won 22 of their previous 23 matches against Italy in the Six Nations, including the last nine in a row, with their only defeat in that spell coming in Rome in 2013, which was the last time Italy won at home in the competition against anyone.

Italy have made three changes from the side that lost to England in their last game, with fly-half Paolo Garbisi back in for Tommaso Allan.

Coach Kieran Crowley has also recalled Pierre Bruno to the left wing, while Simone Ferrari is in for Marco Riccioni at tighthead prop.

 

Italy XV: Ange Capuozzo, Edoardo Padovani, Juan Ignacio Brex, Tommaso Menoncello, Pierre Bruno, Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney; Danilo Fischetti, Giacomo Nicotera, Simone Ferrari, Niccolo Cannone, Federico Ruzza, Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro (c), Lorenzo Cannone.

Replacements: Luca Bigi, Federico Zani, Marco Riccioni, Edoardo Iachizzi, Giovanni Pettinelli, Alessandro Fusco, Luca Morisi, Tommaso Allan

Ireland XV: Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe, Ross Byrne, Craig Casey; Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, James Ryan (c), Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Dave Kilcoyne, Tom O'Toole, Ryan Baird, Peter O'Mahony, Conor Murray, Jack Crowley, Stuart McCloskey.

Ireland second row James Ryan will captain the side in the absence of Johnny Sexton when they face Italy in the Six Nations on Saturday.

Andy Farrell's team head to Rome looking to preserve their perfect start to this year's championship, having so far picked up wins over Wales and France.

Fly-half and regular skipper Sexton suffered a groin injury against Les Bleus in week two however and has been ruled out of the trip to Stadio Olimpico.

In his place, Leinster forward Ryan will take charge for the visitors, with the 26-year-old acknowledging he must live up to the responsibility.

"It's obviously a huge honour," he said. "It’s very cool. It’s a great moment for me and my family to captain my country this week. It still hasn’t sunk in.

"We've got a good group, a core leadership group that has been there for the last couple of years. I have big shoes to fill.

"Being named captain is a huge honour, but I've still got to bring the best version of myself."

Ireland are favourites to take the championship crown after defeating France last time out, with the world number one side looking to push on in a World Cup year.

A much-improved Italy are still winless in 2023, but Ryan expects a sterner test than in encounters gone by from the Azzurri.

"They are at home, so they will play with plenty of emotion," he added. 

"They are obviously an improved team, particularly in attack. They seem to be playing with a lot of ambition.

"They've got some genuinely world-class players there. They are a very dangerous side with ball in hand. They are also strong up front.

"We saw them drive the England pack back a few times, which is no easy task. I think it will be a big challenge for us."

Ben Stokes has revealed he will miss the conclusion of the Indian Premier League season in order to lead England in their Test against Ireland in June.

The four-day match starts on June 1 at Lord's, four days after the IPL final, and provides Brendon McCullum's side with their final warm-up fixture before the Ashes.

Stokes, who was bought by Chennai Super Kings for £1.6m in December's auction, leads a selection of England stars including Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow at the IPL this year.

But speaking ahead of his side's second Test with New Zealand this week, the captain has vowed to ensure he is available, though he will leave others to decide for themselves.

"Yes, I'll play [against Ireland]. I'll be making sure I give myself enough time to get back and play the Ireland game," he said.

"I think it's a little bit too far ahead to say [for others], but one thing I've got to look at is we've got the Ashes after the Ireland Test.

"I'll probably get round the individuals and ask them what they want to be ready for the Ashes.

"Those five [Ashes] games are obviously the big ones of the summer, and you've got to think about what the lads want.

"You also have to think about is if something was to happen in the Ireland game, and we lose someone for the Ashes.

"It's just one of those where you have to weigh up the options of what the individual person actually wants out of that week versus do we really need to play that one? Because I'm obviously right in saying that series is bigger than that game against Ireland."

Stokes sat out the 2022 edition of the IPL, having suffered a broken finger in his most recent game there for Rajasthan Royals, which contributed to what became a break from cricket.

After a 267-run win in Mount Maunganui, England are out to seal a clean sweep of their two-Test series against New Zealand, starting in Wellington on Friday.

Under the tutelage of New Zealand great Brendon McCullum's coaching and Stokes' captaincy, England have won 10 of their last 11 Tests while playing a thrilling brand of cricket dubbed 'Bazball'.

Former Ireland, Leinster and British and Irish Lions prop Jack McGrath has retired from rugby at the age of 33 as he wants to live "a pain-free life".

McGrath earned 56 caps for Ireland and was part of the side that won the Six Nations in 2014 and 2015, as well as a Grand Slam in 2018.

The Dublin native was also part of the Lions' 2017 tour of New Zealand, winning all three of his caps as a replacement.

He has struggled with a persistent hip injury and had been without a club since being released by Ulster at the end of the 2021-22 season.

In a statement posted on his personal Instagram account on Thursday, McGrath officially brought down the curtain on his playing career.

"This decision has taken a considerable amount of time. It has been one of the hardest I've ever had to make," McGrath said.

"The last few years have been extremely testing for myself and my family, both mentally and physically.

"I feel I have given everything to my rugby career and I have no regrets or anything left to prove. It's been a long road of rehabilitation after two hip resurfacing operations.

"My main focus now is my family and I am excited for this next chapter with them.

"I am in a position now where I have a comfortable, pain-free life and can be an active dad, which I have chosen over going back to play rugby."

McGrath won three domestic titles, along with trophy successes in the European Challenge Cup and European Champions Cup, during nine successful years with Leinster, before joining Ulster in 2019, where appearances were limited.

Ireland lock Tadhg Beirne has been ruled out of the remainder of the 2023 Six Nations with an ankle injury.

The Munster player, who has started his country's last 14 Tests, was forced off early in the second half of Saturday's 32-19 win over France in Dublin.

Beirne left the Aviva Stadium on crutches, and it was confirmed by Ireland on Thursday he is facing around three months out of action as the injury requires surgery.

"Tadhg Beirne will undergo surgery today on the ankle injury he sustained in Saturday's win over France," a statement from the Irish Rugby Football Union read.

"Unfortunately, Tadhg will be ruled out for up to 12 weeks."

Ulster skipper Iain Henderson replaced Beirne against France and is expected to start Ireland's next game away at Italy a week on Saturday.

Andy Farrell's side are level with Scotland on 10 points after two rounds of fixtures after claiming bonus-point victories against Wales and France.

After facing Italy at Stadio Olimpico, the world's top-ranked nation travel to Scotland and then host England in their final fixture.

France prop Uini Atonio has received a three-match ban for a dangerous tackle on Ireland hooker Rob Herring in Saturday's Six Nations showdown in Dublin.

Atonio was issued only a yellow card by referee Wayne Barnes during the first half of France's 32-19 defeat to Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.

The 32-year-old's high challenge forced Herring off the field for a head injury assessment and he did not rejoin the game.

A Six Nations statement on Wednesday confirmed Atonio has been suspended for France's remaining games against Scotland, England and Wales.

He may return to face Wales, though, as an independent judicial committee granted an application by La Rochelle player Atonio to take part in a coaching intervention programme.

"The player admitted that he had committed an act of foul play worthy of a red card," a Six Nations statement read.

"Having reviewed all the evidence, the committee accepted the player's admission that the tackle on Ireland number two was foul play.

"His shoulder made contact with Ireland number two's neck/face as described in the citing commissioner's report, and therefore reached the red-card threshold."

Ireland's victory over last year's Grand Slam winners France leaves them level with Scotland on 10 points at the top of the table.

Andy Farrell's side return to action a week on Saturday with a trip to Italy, before concluding their campaign against Scotland and England.

Ireland boss Andy Farrell hailed the "astonishing" attitude of his players after they halted France's winning run and stretched their own streak to a record 13 consecutive home victories.

France had won 14 on the bounce before arriving in Dublin, but they went down 32-19 at the Aviva Stadium, with the hosts bagging a bonus point after tries from Hugo Keenan, James Lowe, Andrew Porter and Garry Ringrose.

It was a performance that showed why many made Ireland favourites for the title from the get-go, as they followed up victory over Wales last weekend with another impressive display.

They head the world rankings and showed that standing is merited, with Farrell delighted, albeit saying he felt Ireland should perhaps have won by a heavier margin. All the same, the 13-point cushion was the most Ireland have beaten France by in the championship since a 25-6 success in March 1975.

Farrell told ITV: "It was a huge game and rightly so it was billed that way, because it was two great teams going at it, with the French unbeaten record and us going for our home record.

"It all gets thrown into the pot, but at the end of the day it's a victory in the competition we want to do well at, and we'll look at that performance and be unbelievably proud of it.

"The fight and the spirit that we had was astonishing at times, especially in that last 10 minutes.

"Garry Ringrose's try, he was dead on his feet, and then Bundee Aki coming back and dropping on loose balls and James Ryan kept getting up off the floor and taking the ball in for us. I could keep going on."

Farrell added: "The fighting spirit was great, but at the same time I thought we played some good stuff in the first half and should have come away with a few more points, and maybe again in the second half we should have come away with a few more points.

"That's not being greedy, because we got a bonus point, so we've got to be very happy with that, but at the same time we left a few things out there.

"So we're onto the next one, and it's Italy away and the same points are up for grabs."

Farrell was delighted Ireland got to 13 wins in a row at home for the first time, and doing so against a France side he rates so highly was doubly pleasing.

It was his first win over France, who had beaten Ireland in their most recent three encounters, and Farrell said: "I'm sure there'll be many battles down the line as well."

Keenan got Ireland's opening try, bursting through a hole in the French defence, but it was Lowe's score that particularly caught the eye.

He dived over in the corner, with most of his body in touch, and replays appeared to indicate it was a legitimate score after TMO checks.

It was a moment of acrobatic brilliance at high speed. Subsequent angles appeared to hint Lowe may have grazed the grass outside the playing area with a boot, but the try stood.

"He's useful out on that wing, the big lump," said Keenan. "It's brilliant for him and a great team performance."

Delighted to see off Les Bleus, Keenan added: "It was a long time coming. We've had a few tough losses and learnt from those. It was the one we were focusing on, so it's brilliant we got there."

Ireland halted France's 14-match winning run with a thrilling 32-19 victory in Dublin as Andy Farrell's remarkable team made a big Six Nations statement.

It had been France's longest ever streak of victories, but last season's Grand Slam champions were outscored four tries to one at the Aviva Stadium, with Hugo Keenan, James Lowe, Andrew Porter and Garry Ringrose going over for the hosts.

In a battle between the top two in the world rankings, Ireland showed why they are number one.

Despite conceding an early penalty, the men in green had threatened the try line before cleverly tearing a hole in the French defence to allow Keenan to dash through to score.

Captain Johnny Sexton added the extras, but Thomas Ramos booted his second penalty of the afternoon to trim Ireland's early lead.

France added an exquisite try to power ahead, with Damian Penaud collecting the ball inside his own 22, charging through midfield and feeding Anthony Jelonch, before accepting a return pass and sprinting through to score.

Ireland hit back, Lowe delivering what looked to be an astonishing finish in the left corner.

The diving Lowe dotted down with one hand on the ball and most of his body out of play. A TMO check ruled he was off the ground, with Penaud's attempt to bundle the wing into touch failing to prevent the try. Further replays cast doubt on whether it should have been awarded.

Sexton failed to convert, then France's Uini Atonio was sin-binned after an ugly and high barge into Rob Herring, who departed for a head injury assessment.

Ireland capitalised on their extra man, Porter marking his 50th cap by crashing in from close range, and Sexton gave Ireland a 19-13 lead. Ramos struck a long-range penalty to reduce the deficit, but three more from Sexton made it 22-16 at the break.

Ross Byrne, on for the injured Sexton, slotted a penalty in the 60th minute to extend Ireland's lead, but Ramos hit back with a drop goal.

The game was Ireland's when Ringrose bustled in down the left to score and secure the bonus point. Their championship and Grand Slam prospects are looking up, with two wins from two, while France must dust themselves off and recover from this jolting setback.

Ireland walloped Wales and France edged a tight game with Italy in round one, whetting the appetite for a Six Nations clash in Dublin on Saturday between the title favourites.

With Ireland top of the World Rugby rankings, and France in second place, this is a game that could go a long way to determining who wins the championship.

Others will feel they can have a say too, particularly Scotland after last week's impressive win over England at Twickenham, another Calcutta Cup success for Gregor Townsend.

The onus will be on the Scots, at Murrayfield against Wales this weekend, to show they can build on that victory in London. Wales boss Warren Gatland, meanwhile, will be looking for a response from his team after last week's 34-10 loss to Ireland.

England host Italy, with Steve Borthwick eyeing a first win as head coach, but the Red Rose will be wary of the Azzurri's threat, given they pushed France close last time out and beat Australia in November.

Ahead of the second round of games, Stats Perform looks at the action to come, with the help of Opta data.

IRELAND v FRANCE

FORM

France have won their last 14 matches. They have also won each of their last three meetings with Ireland after tasting victory in just one of their previous nine Test encounters (D2 L6). The recent wins against Ireland have tended to be tight affairs though, each one decided by a single-figure margin.

A 15-13 win for France in Dublin two years ago means Les Bleus have the opportunity to bag back-to-back wins in the Irish capital for only the second time in the Six Nations, after previously doing so in 2005 and 2007.

While France's current streak of wins is the longest in their history, Ireland's form is also similarly foreboding, having won 18 of their last 20 matches (L2), including each of their last six.

The men in green have won 21 of their last 22 home games, including their last 12 – marking their joint-longest winning run on home soil. The last home defeat for Ireland was that France game in the 2021 Six Nations.

ONES TO WATCH

France wing Ethan Dumortier is a man Ireland will want to keep a close eye on. The Lyon player scored a try on his Test debut last week and has totted up 12 tries in his last 13 matches for club and country. He beat five defenders from just four carries against Italy, with Gael Fickou (6) the only France player to beat more, and Dumortier starts again this weekend.

Ireland's James Ryan, Andrew Porter and Dave Kilcoyne are all set to win their 50th caps for Ireland, while scrum-half Conor Murray makes his 50th Six Nations appearance. But expect all eyes to fall on captain Johnny Sexton, with the fly-half 15 points away from beating Ronan O'Gara's record of 557 points in the championship. Veteran fly-half Sexton has managed hauls of 15-plus points on 13 occasions in the Six Nations, including three times against France (2014, 2015, 2018).

SCOTLAND v WALES

FORM

Wales have won 13 of their last 15 matches against Scotland in the Six Nations (L2), while Gatland, back at the helm for a second stint, has won each of his 10 matches against the Scots while in charge of Wales.

The omens are not great for Scotland, who also beat England in their championship openers in 2021 and 2022, only to come unstuck against Wales in round two both times. The Welsh have won just two of their last 11 matches since getting the better of Scotland 20-17 at the Principality Stadium 12 months ago, however.

Scotland made the most tackles of any side last weekend (214) and recorded the best tackle success rate (91 per cent) as they showed spirit as well as skill in London. Wales made the second-highest number of tackles (184), but it did not spare them a torching at Ireland's hands in Cardiff.

ONES TO WATCH

Scotland wing Duhan van der Merwe tormented England at Twickenham with his two-try masterclass. He beat 11 defenders, the most by any player in a Six Nations match since Van der Merwe himself beat 13 against Italy in 2021, so Wales must surely prioritise stopping him if they are to stop Scotland.

Wales' Liam Williams (8) was the only other player to beat more than six defenders during the opening round. Rio Dyer also caught the eye for Wales in last week's losing cause, carrying for 108 metres from his seven carries. Among the 55 players to make more than six carries in round one, Dyer had the best average carry distance of 15.4 metres, followed by Van der Merwe (13m).

ENGLAND v ITALY

FORM

England have never lost three in a row at Twickenham in the Six Nations, but that will be the outcome if they go down to Italy on Sunday. Indeed, the last time they suffered three home defeats in a row in the old Five Nations was in 1971-72.

Erstwhile whipping boys Italy look to have more about them than in past seasons, helped by winning away at Wales in the final round of last year's championship. They have never won consecutive away matches in the Six Nations, but that is their objective this weekend.

Both these teams lost last week, but there were areas where they were high performers. England were the only side to carry for over 1,000 metres in the opening round (1,039), with Italy next on that list (828). These teams also made the most passes of all, with England (207) just ahead of Italy (202) in that metric.

ONES TO WATCH

England's Ellis Genge scored a try and made 18 carries against Scotland, the most carries by a prop in Six Nations history, beating his own record of 17, set in 2019 against Scotland. His carries total was the joint-highest of all players in week one, matching team-mate Lewis Ludlam and Scotland's Finn Russell, and Borthwick will be wanting a similarly all-action effort from the prop.

Italy's Ange Capuozzo would have enjoyed the sight of Van der Merwe rampaging through England's defence last week, knowing he is similarly capable of finding holes and exploiting them. The 23-year-old Toulouse full-back found his way to the try line against France and carried for 114 metres, the most by any player in the opening round. He has scored three tries and assisted one in his three Six Nations appearances, and England will do well to keep him under close observation.

Ireland have brought in Rob Herring for injured hooker Dan Sheehan for Saturday's huge Six Nations clash with France, who named an unchanged line-up.

Sheehan started nine of Ireland's past 10 matches, but a hamstring injury sees him drop out for the match at the Aviva Stadium in a possible title and Grand Slam showdown.

Herring will deputise for Sheehan, while Conor Murray has been passed fit to continue his half-back partnership with captain Johnny Sexton, who was himself a fitness doubt.

"It's not nice for Dan," Ireland head coach Andy Farrell said on Thursday. "He's a fantastic player at the top of his game. Anyone would miss a player in that kind of form. 

"I sound like a broken record, but it's great because this is exactly what's going to happen down the track in the World Cup.

"International rugby is only going to get bigger and better so it's always going to be about the squad.

"When you get to the World Cup, you've a small squad. There's rightly a 12-day turnaround as far as concussions are concerned, so you're always going to be numbers down."

Jamison Gibson-Park, Tadhg Furlong and Cian Healy all missed Ireland's opening 34-10 win over Wales and remain out of the matchday 23 to face France.

 

Ireland, who finished second to France in last year's tournament, are ranked number one in the world and have won 21 of their past 22 home games, including each of the past 12.

They host a France side on a 14-match winning run – their best ever streak – most recently overcoming Italy 29-24 in a tight contest last weekend.

Fabien Galthie has stuck with the same XV that started the game in Rome, meaning Romain Ntamack is retained at number 10, despite Matthieu Jalibert's impact from the bench.

Francois Cros returns to the replacements' bench as one of two changes, along with Baptiste Couilloud, with Thomas Lavault and Nolann Le Garrec dropping out.

"Firstly, we have gone with the same personnel due to the performance [against Italy], the victory with a bonus point, which meant they achieved their target," Galthie said.

"Coherence, too, as it is three weeks that we have worked with this group.

"And also confidence because we have confidence in our players who for three years have progressed together; that is why there are no surprises in the starting XV."

France have won each of their past three meetings with Ireland, this after winning just one of their previous nine Test encounters (D2 L6).

Ireland will be without Jamison Gibson-Park, Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong for a huge Six Nations clash with France on Saturday.

Scrum-half Gibson-Park and prop Healy were late withdrawals from an opening 34-10 win over Wales at the weekend due to hamstring injuries.

The duo will not be fit in time for a showdown with defending champions France at the Aviva Stadium, while prop Furlong also misses out due to a calf issue that sidelined him for the victory at the Principality Stadium.

Conor Murray will be expected to retain the number nine shirt after coming into the side to replace Gibson-Park.

Captain Johnny Sexton, who suffered a dead leg in Cardiff, will complete the HIA process on Monday, while Ronan Kelleher is due to return to training this week.

Scrum-half Caolin Blade and loosehead prop Michael Milne have been called up to the squad, while Roman Salanoa and Tom Stewart will remain with the group after being drafted in last week. 

France started the defence of their title with a 29-24 win over Italy at Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.

Shaun Edwards warned France will be in for a "hiding" against Ireland in the Six Nations next weekend if they fail to raise their game after clinging on to beat Italy 29-24.

The defending champions needed a Matthieu Jalibert try with 14 minutes to play at Stadio Olimpico on Sunday to start the defence of their title with a bonus-point win.

First-half tries from Thibaud Flament, Thomas Ramos and debutant Ethan Dumortier put the holders well on course for victory, but an Ange Capuozzo score and three Tommaso Allan penalties meant they only led 19-14 at the break.

A penalty try that also resulted in Charles Ollivon being sent to the sin-bin and another three points for Allan sensationally put the resurgent Azzurri in front with just under 20 minutes to play.

France were able to extend their winning run to 14 matches courtesy of Jalibert's finish, but they had to withstand late pressure and Allan missed a kick at goal as Italy fell just short of claiming a famous victory.

Les Bleus face Ireland, the world's top-ranked side, at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday and defence coach Edwards says their winning streak will come to a juddering halt if they fail to improve on their display in Rome.

He told ITV Sport: "First half, we were quite dominant. They came on leaps and bounds in the second half and obviously at the end it was a very tight affair, but we are in a good habit of winning tight games at the moment.

"It happened against Australia, against South Africa, it's happened in a few games.

"Hopefully we can continue that habit, but I think we all know if we don't put up a better performance next week we'll be on the end of a 15-30 point hiding."

Indisciplined France conceded 18 penalties, although Edwards suggested the count should not have been so high.

"Certainly against the defence it's something I will be looking at this week and I'll be honest, I've been in the game for 20 years and that's the most penalties I've ever had against the defence.

"It's something we pride ourselves on with the French team in particular and all the way through with Wales, Wasps, etc. We'll have to go through it in detail with the referees, because it's the first time my defence has been penalised so much."

Warren Gatland is "not that disappointed" with Wales' heavy Six Nations loss to Ireland as he believes his side can improve in every area they are currently lacking.

Ireland lived up to their billing as pre-tournament favourites by racing into a 24-point lead by half-time at the Principality Stadium on their way to a 34-10 victory.

While Wales improved after the break, with Liam Williams' try providing some hope, Ireland never looked under any real threat and earned a first win in Cardiff since 2013.

It meant defeat for Gatland in his first game back as head coach since replacing Wayne Pivac in December, but he is trying to remain positive.

"Strangely I'm not that disappointed," he told BBC Sport. "That's because a lot of things that were disappointing are things that we can fix. 

"We spoke at half-time about discipline and line speed in defence and we brought that in the second half. 

"We made a slow start, gave away penalties and Ireland created momentum off that. We created opportunities that we should have taken advantage of. 

"We had as many entries into the 22 as them, but they came away with points and we missed about three or four tries where we put ourselves in position to score.

"We will take a lot from this, especially the younger players. We will focus on the positives of the second half and how we put pressure on them to create chances. 

"Ireland are a very good side. It shows the step up we need to take."

 

The world's top-ranked side Ireland made a lightning start to the contest, with Caelan Doris' try after 119 seconds his side's third-quickest in a Six Nations match.

James Ryan and James Lowe also crossed over before half-time, while Johnny Sexton added 12 points as Ireland scored 27 first-half points away at Wales for the first time.

Williams gave home supporters something to cling onto when finding a breakthrough, but he was later yellow carded and Josh van der Flier killed off the contest soon after.

Sexton appeared to be left dazed by Williams' hard hit, with concerns over a possible concussion, but Ireland coach Andy Farrell provided a positive update after the game.

"He came off with a dead leg," Farrell told reporters. "We've done a HIA test on him as well, and that's all clear so he's fine."

Ireland dropped off in the second period, but Van der Flier's try secured a bonus point for the visitors to lay down a marker ahead of France's trip to Italy on Sunday.

They have now scored four-plus tries in each of their last four Six Nations matches, their longest such run in Five or Six Nations history.

Farrell's side are aiming to go one better than last year when finishing second to France, though Hugo Keenan is not looking too far ahead.

"We are only taking things one game at a time. We won't get caught up with anything," he told BBC Sport.

"We came out and started really well today, which was really important having not won here for 10 years.

"We probably slipped off a bit in the second half so there's still plenty to work on but we're delighted to get a bonus point and start the Six Nations with a win.

"These are the occasions you want to be part of, in this stadium against a tough side. They're in transition but are always a serious team, especially here."

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