Uncapped centre Joe Marchant has been included in a 38-man England squad for a 12-day training camp, but Danny Cipriani will not be involved in Treviso.

The Harlequins player flew out for warm-weather on Monday with the rest of the group for training two months before the Rugby World Cup starts in Japan.

It will be Marchant's first experience with the senior squad, while full-back Ruaridh McConnochie is another uncapped player to be selected by Eddie Jones.

Sam Underhill and Anthony Watson will be on the trip after spending last week undergoing strength and conditioning, having been sidelined by long-term injuries.

Joe Marler is also included after reversing his decision to retire from international rugby, however Gloucester fly-half Cipriani has failed to make the cut.

England head coach Jones said: "Treviso is a hard yards camp with conditions similar to Tokyo. Team training will be about being adaptable and off the field enjoying each other's company."

He added: "Selection is absolutely challenging, we have left some good players doing work at their clubs and they must be ready if called up."

England training squad:

Forwards: Dan Cole, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Charlie Ewels, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Joe Marler, Brad Shields, Kyle Sinckler, Jack Singleton, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Harry Williams, Mark Wilson.

Backs: Mike Brown, Joe Cokanasiga, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Piers Francis, Willi Heinz, Jonathan Joseph, Joe Marchant, Jonny May, Ruaridh McConnochie, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Ben Spencer, Ben Te’o, Manu Tuilagi, Anthony Watson, Ben Youngs.

South Africa have named a strong 36-man touring squad for the Rugby Championship matches against New Zealand and Argentina after fielding an under-strength side for the win over Australia.

The Springboks beat the Wallabies 35-17 on Saturday despite Rassie Erasmus leaving out a string of key men at Ellis Park.

Director of rugby Erasmus' decision to make changes did not backfire, as scrum-half Herschel Jantjies scored two tries in an impressive debut.

Erasmus flew out to New Zealand soon after the victory along with his coaching staff and eight players - including the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Jesse Kriel, Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Fourteen Springboks had already departed two days before the win over Australia to gear up for a showdown with New Zealand in Wellington on Saturday.

Francois Louw, Marcell Coetzee, Tendai Mtawarira and Schalk Brits are among another 10 who will board the plane on Sunday.

South Africa take on Argentina in Salta on August 10 after doing battle with the world champions.

 

South Africa squad:

Forwards: Schalk Brits, Marcell Coetzee, Lood de Jager, Thomas du Toit, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Rynhardt Elstadt, Eben Etzebeth, Lizo Gqoboka, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Francois Louw, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira, Franco Mostert, Trevor Nyakane, Marvin Orie, Kwagga Smith, RG Snyman, Duane Vermeulen.

Backs: Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Faf de Klerk, Andre Esterhuizen, Warrick Gelant, Elton Jantjies, Herschel Jantjies, Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel, Makazole Mapimpi, Sbu Nkosi, Willie le Roux, Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach, Frans Steyn.

 

 

Steve Hansen said New Zealand's hard-fought Rugby Championship win over Argentina gives them "a little bit more money in the bank" having triumphed without so many key men.

Captain Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Joe Moody and Codie Taylor were among the All Blacks to be rested for their opening game of the tournament on Saturday.

The understrength world champions had to dig deep to edge a 20-16 victory over the Pumas, secured courtesy of tries from Ngani Laumape and Brodie Retallick, along with 10 points from the boot of Beauden Barrett.

Head coach Hansen was relieved that his selection gamble paid off ahead of a showdown with South Africa in Wellington next Saturday.

"If you look at the Crusaders not being here [in Buenos Aires] It's a minimum of probably 400 Test caps, but we knew that," Hansen said.

"That's why we talked earlier in the week about risk and reward."

Hansen added: "At times we were rusty, but we did a lot of good things.

"One of the greatest things we did was at the end with all the young fellows on we showed a lot of mental fortitude. So really pleased with that.

"To get away with the win is a little bit more money in the bank."

Brian O'Driscoll has hailed Joe Schmidt for working "wonders" with Ireland and hopes the head coach can end his tenure by lifting the Rugby World Cup.

Schmidt will step down after the tournament in Japan, with Andy Farrell, part of his coaching team, stepping up to replace him.

Current boss Schmidt, 53, was named World Rugby Coach of the Year last November and has taken Ireland to another level since taking over in 2013.

Ireland legend O'Driscoll can understand why Schmidt opted to move on and feels it would be fitting if he ended his reign by guiding Ireland to a first World Cup triumph.

The former Ireland captain, a HSBC ambassador, told Omnisport: "Five years is quite a long time in any coach's cycle. I think if for no other reason from his own point of view, to freshen up a bit.

"He's been coaching non-stop for a long time, from Clermont through to Leinster through to Ireland. I think coaches sometimes need a bit of downtime, re-evaluate their philosophies, the way they go about coaching teams and the way they think about the game.

"He's done wonders for Ireland, we've beaten every team in the world here in the last two years, we've won grand slams, we've won tours away from Ireland. He's left the team in great shape, hopefully we can leave on a high with maybe a World Cup win."

O'Driscoll welcomed the appointment of defence coach Farrell as Schmidt's successor.

"I think that continuity is really important. Andy's come in and done a great job the last three or four years and the lads really like him." the ex-British and Irish Lions skipper said.

"It's the next progression for Andy as well as a coach to step up to head coach and bring in a new team around him, have that continuity. It's very difficult if you finish one cycle and you lose some key players and you lose a coach it tends to take a few years to build that again.

"Keeping some of the same faces in there is important to maintain the lofty standards and ambitions that this Irish team has."

 

- Brian O'Driscoll was talking on behalf of The Open patron HSBC. Ahead of The Open, Brian launched HSBC’s latest social challenge, the #OneHandedChip alongside Rory O’Connor, a young golfer from Northern Ireland who suffers from cerebral palsy. For more information, please visit: https://twitter.com/HSBC_Sport/status/1147102991553585153

New Zealand will be expected to continue their dominance of Argentina and the Rugby Championship when the tournament gets under way on Saturday.

The All Blacks have won the trophy in each of the last three years and are favourites to retain it with the Rugby World Cup fast approaching.

Argentina have never beaten the world champions in 32 attempts and will have to produce something special to make history in Buenos Aires this weekend.

South Africa host Australia at Emirates Airline Park, and the Springboks have won nine of their previous 10 encounters with the Wallabies at the Johannesburg venue.

Take a look at the Opta numbers ahead of Saturday's opening round of matches.

 

South Africa v Australia

- South Africa have lost only one of their last five Tests against Australia, although two of those meetings ended as draws.

- The Springboks have won 13 of their last 16 games played at Emirates Airline Park, including their last three on the bounce, scoring an average of 36 points per match.

- Australia will be looking to secure back-to-back Rugby Championship wins for the first time since 2016 after ending their 2018 campaign with a 45-34 success over Argentina.

- The Wallabies' win rate of 24 per cent when playing in South Africa is their lowest in any nation. Indeed, it is the lowest win rate of any of the six nations to have played more than 20 Tests there.

- Australia back Dane Haylett-Petty gained 397 metres in the 2018 Rugby Championship, the most of any player and 130 more than South Africa's best, Siya Kolisi (267).

 

Argentina v New Zealand

- Argentina’s only positive result against New Zealand came in a 21-21 draw in November 1985. Since that match in Buenos Aires they have lost all 10 home games against the All Blacks.

- New Zealand are on the cusp of their 450th win – 43 more than any other team – and require just 26 points this weekend to become the first nation to score 16,000 international points.

- The All Blacks have won 15 of their last 17 games, including a 66-3 victory against Italy in Rome in their most recent fixture.

- Argentina full-back Nicolas Sanchez scored the most points (67) of any player in the competition last year. He scored four tries, 16 of 17 conversions, four of seven penalty attempts and a drop goal.

- Argentina have lost their last four games played at Velez Sarsfield, including defeats to New Zealand in their last two games at the venue.

Just two months before the Rugby World Cup starts in Japan, this year's Rugby Championship will give opportunities for players desperate to board the plane to Japan.

While Beauden Barrett, Michael Hooper, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Nicolas Sanchez are nailed on to feature on the biggest stage for their respective nations, fitness permitting of course, there are some who are playing for a place in the squad.

New Zealand prepare to start the defence of their title against Argentina in Buenos Aires on Saturday, while South Africa and Australia do battle at Ellis Park on the same day.

Here we have picked out those who will be determined to grasp their opportunities in a shortened tournament in 2019.

 

SEVU REECE, NEW ZEALAND

Reece was one of four uncapped players named in the All Blacks squad for the opening two rounds.

The 22-year-old wing was the leading try scorer in Super Rugby, lighting up the competition as the Crusaders retained their title.

Fiji-born flyer Reece has the pace, power and skill to deliver on the international stage and an impressive Rugby Championship can book him a ticket to the World Cup.

Reece was supposed to join Connacht and looked set to play for Fiji, but after being granted a discharge without conviction over a domestic assault last year, he has experienced a rapid rise.

 

HARRY JOHNSON-HOLMES, AUSTRALIA

Johnson-Holmes was flown over to Johannesburg to link up with an injury-hit Australia squad for their encounter with the Springboks.

The 22-year-old Waratahs prop is poised to come off the bench for what is sure to be a fierce battle this weekend.

With Tom Robertson (ankle) and Scott Sio (adductor) missing out, Johnson-Holmes has been summoned from the fringes.

James Slipper got the nod to start in what will be his first international appearance since 2016 and he will be eager to make up for lost time, but Johnson-Holmes is vying for a World Cup call.

 

HERSCHEL JANTJIES, SOUTH AFRICA

Herschel Jantjies and Rynhardt Elstadt will make their South Africa bows against Michael Cheika's men.

Elton Jantjies and namesake Herschel will form a half-back pairing for the first time on the Test stage.

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick says scrum-half Herschel has the potential for greatness and he will get the opportunity to live up to the hype.

While Faf de Klerk and Cobus Reinach are ahead of the 23-year-old in the pecking order, but there is still time to show he merits a spot after an excellent Super Rugby season for the Stormers.

 

LUCAS MENSA, ARGENTINA 

Livewire Lucas Mensa is a potential bolter for the Pumas' World Cup party.

The centre was called up to Argentina's first Rugby Championship squad by Mario Ledesma, who will be aiming to build on an outstanding, historic Super Rugby campaign by the Jaguares.

Mensa is a bundle of energy and is capable of hitting the ground running at international level.

Yet to make his debut, the 23-year-old has impressed Ledesma while playing for Argentina XV in the Americas Rugby Championship.

Scott Robertson is "optimistic" he stands a good chance of being the next New Zealand head coach after masterminding Crusaders' third consecutive Super Rugby triumph.

Robertson is in contention to replace Steve Hansen after the Rugby World Cup and will be interviewed for the role in December.

The Crusaders head coach has excelled since replacing Todd Blackadder in 2017 and watched his side defend their Super Rugby title with a 19-3 win over the Jaguares at the Orangetheory Stadium on Saturday.

Robertson hopes he can prove he is the right man to take charge of the All Blacks later this year.

"I've got to prepare as best I can to put myself forward," Robertson said during the Crusaders' victory parade in Christchurch on Monday.

"I've done what I can do so then hopefully I'll have a great interview and if they want someone, they know who they're getting with me. We'll wait for December."

Quizzed about his chances of landing the role, he added: "Ask me closer to the time.

"I'm a pretty optimistic person - if you have a crack I'd like to think you have a chance."

Sonny Bill Williams is a doubt for New Zealand's Rugby Championship opener against Argentina due to a hamstring injury.

The Blues centre was this week named in the initial All Blacks squad for the clashes with the Pumas in Buenos Aires on July 20 and South Africa in Wellington a week later.

Williams may not be available to feature for the world champions, though, as he is suffering from a tight hamstring.

The 33-year-old missed much of the Super Rugby season after undergoing knee surgery.

Williams played 50 minutes in a club match for Ponsonby against Grammar TEC last week before suffering another fitness setback.

The powerful midfielder has been linked with a return to rugby league after the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Wallabies and Waratahs lock Rob Simmons has signed a two-year extension with Rugby Australia (RA) despite interest from abroad.

Simmons is just six appearances away from becoming the 11th player to reach 100 Tests for the Wallabies.

The 30-year-old, who joined the Waratahs from the Reds last year, said that switch had been a good one.

"It's been a great move to Sydney, both professionally and personally. My family have really enjoyed it and the Waratahs have been good to me so hopefully I can repay them over the next two years," Simmons said in a statement.

"The group is very focused on what they want to achieve and I'm just trying to support Hoops [captain Michael Hooper] in every way possible so that we can continue to mature as a group.

"The Wallabies have been a big part of my life for nearly a decade now and I'm hugely proud whenever I get the chance to wear the Wallaby jersey. I obviously knew that I had the option to still play for Australia and be based overseas and I had interest from a few clubs but that just wasn't what I wanted to do."

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika praised Simmons, but believes there is even more to come from the lock.

"Rob has played some of the best rugby of his career for the Waratahs this season. He has been very consistent and very resilient," he said.

"I still believe there is plenty of growth in Rob's game and he is primed to show that over the coming months."

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