The latest rugby news on the major tournaments from around the globe.
The opening weekend of Super Rugby action continues, and the battle for early-season ascendency resumes with a stream of brutal clashes lined up on Saturday.
Ireland's postponed Six Nations match in Paris gave players the chance to rest aching bodies, and with the ultra-physical Italians in Dublin on Saturday, skipper Paul O'Connell is happy to take the lone positive from the French farce.
One would expect England to continue to win well with only Ireland looking likely to dethrone them.
Owen Farrell has insisted he will be able to shoulder the burden of being England's flyhalf when he makes his first Twickenham start for his country against Wales in the Six Nations on Saturday.
Bulls captain Pierre Spies expects a physical battle in his team's season opening Super Rugby match against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.
Veteran flyhalf Stephen Jones will take the place of James Hook on the Wales bench for the Six Nations international against England, after the Perpignan back was ruled out with chicken pox.
Interim coach Stuart Lancaster is confident one of the most inexperienced England teams in championship history will avoid stage fright when they face Wales in the Six Nations at Twickenham.
Highlanders' coach Jamie Joseph wasted no time in naming his Hurricanes imports - All Blacks Andrew Hore and Hosea Gear - in the team to play the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.
The Lions may have spent the last decade outside the top 10 on the Super Rugby table, but assistant coach Johan Ackermann believes they could be a real threat this year.
Owen Farrell is confident he can shoulder the play-making responsibility of starting as England's fly-half in the Six Nations clash with Wales.
Stuart Hogg is eager to repay the faith shown in him by Scotland head coach Andy Robinson in Sunday's Six Nations clash with France.
Saracens have announced that Matt Stevens and fellow front-row trio Rhys Gill, Jamie George and Petrus du Plessis have all signed new deals.
Flanker John Barclay is determined Scotland should take their frustrations out on France to resurrect their Six Nations campaign.
Wasps boss David Young has urged his players to sharpen their clinical edge ahead of Friday night's Aviva Premiership clash against Sale.
Andy Goode has been named in the Worcester line-up as one of four changes for Friday night's Aviva Premiership visit of Saracens to Sixways.
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The Lions are ready to get their Australia tour underway. They arrive in Perth on Monday.
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