The home nations are building up to September’s World Cup, which is now two weeks away, and we are here to wrap up the week’s goings on with a particular focus on the British & Irish Lions involved.
Winger George North is delighted to be back in the Wales squad after five months out with concussion.
North, who scored four tries for the Lions during the 2013 tour of Australia, returned to Warren Gatland’s side during their 16-10 win over Ireland at the weekend.
The winger is joined by his fellow Lion – and skipper in Australia in 2013 – Sam Warburton who also returns from injury.
And the 23-year-old North is hoping to continue his recovery on Saturday in his side’s final World Cup warm-up match against Italy.
“I can never score enough tries and if I can get one or two more that’s brilliant,” he said.
“It’s my job to score tries and if I don’t I get the finger pointed.
“This close to the World Cup you just want to concentrate on your job and that’s my job. Touch wood it’s going well and fingers crossed, it will carry on.”
Dan Cole wants England to make a statement of intent against Ireland on Saturday, calling for an “80-minute performance” from his teammates to tee the side up for the start of the World Cup.
Cole, who appeared off the bench in all three Lions Tests against Australia in 2013, is keen to have a successful tournament on home soil after what was widely held as an underwhelming performance from England at the 2011 World Cup.
A solid performance against Ireland would see England going into their opening World Cup game against Fiji with confidence that they can go far in the competition.
“Ireland are in a similar boat to us,” said the Leicester Tigers prop.
“They are coming off the back of a defeat [to Wales] and they want to set the record straight.
“It’s time to make a statement.”
Ireland No.8 Jamie Heaslip is relishing the chance to face England in his team’s final warm up match ahead of the World Cup.
The Leinster back-row forward made six appearances for the Lions in Australia, and is excited at the prospect of the ‘hefty’ challenge that Ireland face against England.
“England are a quality side. They’re a great side to be going up against before going into the World Cup,” he said.
“We’ve done a lot of fitness but nothing prepares you for the matches.
“This is the last chance we get to be up to game speed because, after that, we’re into the competition and you have no excuses.
“It’s a chance to blow the last of the cobwebs off.”
Sean Maitland is set for a return to the Scotland starting line-up after recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in January.
Maitland, who was part of the Lions squad that beat Australia in 2013, initially went under the knife in the hope of being selected in Vern Cotter’s 31-man squad.
Scotland face France on Saturday in their final game before the World Cup kicks off and Cotter is confident his side are ready.
“We were pleased with a number of aspects of our performance against Italy but we feel we still have a lot of work to get through,” said Scotland head coach Cotter.
“France are a very powerful and skilful side so this match will provide another good assessment for this group, and another valuable insight into where we are at as a squad.”
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