After two Rounds of thrilling rugby, the Six Nations is finely poised as we look ahead to the heavyweight matchups of Round 3.
Coach Brunel has looked to youth to get back to winning ways. He has selected a new half-back pairing with the exciting scrum-half Antoine Dupont joined by 19-year-old Romain Ntamack. Could they be the future of French rugby?
The Scots however, will be licking their wounds having failed to take their chances at home to Ireland. They also have injuries to contend with: Hogg, Russell, Jones all missing from the backline along with several forwards out of action.
That said, Scotland will fancy their chances of pinching a result in Paris against a France side low on confidence.
Scotland is without a win in France for 20 years and I don’t see them putting that right on Saturday.
I think France is ready to turn a corner this weekend. The Scottish injury crisis will help their cause and the French fans will demand a reaction for last week’s heavy defeat at the hands of England.
France may have finally found the balance in the team they are looking for and I expect them to make a statement on Saturday.
“Nothing Whets the appetite more than Wales v England” (Jamie Roberts, Wales centre)
To illustrate what a Wales England match up can do for Wales, we will take a trip down memory lane back to 2013. England was chasing the Grand Slam, having not won it for 10 years. Wales stunned England and blew them away taking the Six Nations Championship in the process.
These memories will still be fresh for a few members of the England squad. That said, this crop of players are enjoying an imperious start to the Six Nations and will back themselves to get a result in Wales.
Wales are enjoying one of the best runs on their history. They are on an 11 match unbeaten streak and will be desperate to keep that record going against England.
This game will be decided by fine margins – Can Anscombe marshal his troops? How will England cope with increased expectation? Who wins the breakdown battle?
I think Wales has a balanced side with Lions stars Jonathon Davies, Liam Williams and Alun Wyn Jones alongside the dangerous Gareth Davies and Josh Adams.
The market has underestimated Wales’ quality, the impact of their crowd and I think they will turn England over on Saturday.
Ireland head to Rome on Sunday knowing that if they are realistic of retaining their title, they must beat Italy convincingly and score tries.
The expectation is that Schmidt will make changes to his side. Looking at the bigger picture, it’s a wise decision to rest players and give others a chance to stake a claim for the starting positions with a world cup on the horizon.
On the other hand, the Italians will have their work cut out with talisman Sergio Parisse and the dangerous Mattea Minozzi.
Ultimately, the Irish will have too much for Italy and should put them to the sword.
The Leinster hooker has been scoring tries for fun in Europe and will be eager to put pressure on Best for the starting spot.
He is abrasive and powerful and will be a threat to the Italians line in phase play and off a set piece maul.