Key storylines ahead of the weekend’s Tests

Date published: November 11 2016

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Will England's new centre pairing click? What can Ireland expect from Garry Ringrose? A closer look at Saturday's major narratives.

1) What will Elliot Daly offer England at 13

Daly has been the perfect option as a replacement for England given his versaility to cover outside centre and the back three. Now after five appearances off the bench, he gets a first start in place of a not quite 100 percent Jonathan Joseph. Daly offers plenty of positives – a long-range kicking option, real pace, creativity to unlock defences. His tackling will be tested by South Africa's ball carriers and without Joseph in the side as one of England's best scramblers, Daly will have to cover that role as well. Consistently excellent for Wasps, this chance is long overdue.

2) South Africa's creativity on attack

Pick out an attacking stat from the Rugby Championship and you'll find South Africa at the bottom of the standings. Tries, clean breaks, carries, metres made, offloads, defenders beaten… it's not pretty reading. Allister Coetzee has stocked his pack and midfield with powerful carriers rather than skill players, the opposite in the centres to England's combination of Owen Farrell and Daly, and that is a problem. South Africa's back three appear unlikely to see a lot of touches unless off turnover ball. If the set-piece battle doesn't go their way, then the Springboks will be stuck.

3) France to finally click?

Les Bleus have taken their fair share of criticism in recent years but their last outing was a 27-0 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires, and against a strong Pumas outfit too, close to first-choice, against a second-string France XV. Six survivors from that game, crucially the entire back row and fly-half François Trinh-Duc, will take on Samoa in Toulouse, and French supporters are desperate for some form of consistency, and progress too. This should be the perfect warm-up ahead of facing the Wallabies, rather than a nasty surprise.

4) A response from Wales 

It can't get any worse than last week… right? One of the poorest Welsh performances in recent memory has rightly been heavily criticised by everybody – and also excellently analysed – but what is encouraging is the fact that Rob Howley has reacted swiftly, by dropping Jamie Roberts to the bench and Alex Cuthbert from the matchday 23. Sam Warburton, Alun Wyn Jones, Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams are all welcome returnees, giving Wales a stronger look as a result. Yet even as the home side they will be underdogs against Argentina, for what has become a must-win Test.

5) All Irish eyes on Ringrose

Being 21 and touted as the long-term successor to Brian O'Driscoll comes with plenty of pressure, but there is plenty of buzz around Ringrose as he prepares for a first start for Ireland. His partnership with Leinster team-mate Robbie Henshaw could set Ireland up for the next decade, although Saturday will see him line up alongside Luke Marshall against Canada. Ringrose has already shown for his province that he is fully capable of breaking down defences. Now comes the time to do it on the big stage.

6) Wallabies to keep unbeaten tour on track?

Many scoffed at Michael Cheika's suggestion that Australia could go through their five-game tour without a loss. Well, even though Wales were dreadful last weekend, the Wallabies' attack will cause Scotland, France, Ireland and England real problems if it continues to click as efficently. Bernard Foley's return to fly-half is paying off, delivering his best performance of the year in Cardiff, and the more Tevita Kuridrani gets involved the better. Scotland's defence will need to be especially sharp in their first outing since June.

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