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Gatland 'delighted' with Lions coaching staff

(L to r) Steve Borthwick, Warren Gatland, Rob Howley and Andy Farrell. Credit: PA

Warren Gatland says he is "absolutely delighted" with the quality of his British and Irish Lions coaching team for next summer's tour to New Zealand.

As had been expected, England forwards coach Steve Borthwick, Ireland defence specialist Andy Farrell and current Wales interim head coach Rob Howley will join Lions chief Gatland for the 10-match tour.

Confirmation of the trio came at a press conference in Dublin, with Farrell and Howley returning for another Lions expedition after working with New Zealander Gatland during the successful 2013 Australia tour.

Ex-England skipper and current Red Rose forwards coach Borthwick is a Lions newcomer, but he has made a considerable impression during England's spectacular revival under Eddie Jones.

Gatland said: "Over the next couple of months we want to add some specialist people to the coaching set-up.

"I'm absolutely delighted with the quality we've got here at the moment. There's no rush specifically at the moment. We're just making sure we speak to the right people."

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Northampton withdraw George North from action

Northampton wing George North has suffered a series of concussions. Credit: PA

George North will not play for Northampton again until he has been assessed by an independent expert in head injuries.

The Welsh wing, who has suffered a series of concussions, was cleared by Saints medics to continue playing during Saturday's Aviva Premiership clash with Leicester despite replays suggesting he had been knocked out following a tackle from Adam Thompstone.

Questions have been raised about whether the player's welfare was best served by his return to action but Northampton insist they were fully in compliance with World Rugby's head injury assessment protocols.

The club does admit, however, that the footage available to them at the time was limited and have taken the precautionary steps of withdrawing North from action pending the specialist's verdict.

Bristol announce signing of Dan Tuohy from Ulster

Bristol have announced the signing of Ireland international lock Dan Tuohy, who will move to the Aviva Premiership with immediate effect, leaving Guinness PRO12 side Ulster.

Dan Tuohy has agreed to join Bristol. Credit: PA

Bristol-born Tuohy won the last of his 11 Test caps in 2015, while he had spells at Gloucester and Exeter before heading to Ulster.

Tuohy's arrival at Ashton Gate follows the announcement on Monday that current Connacht boss Pat Lam will take over as Bristol head coach next summer.

Bristol are six points adrift at the Premiership basement, and they face a crunch clash against 11th-placed Worcester on Boxing Day following a two-week break for European action.

"We are pleased to welcome Dan into the fold - he is a formidable presence in the second row and an experienced lineout operator," Bristol's acting head coach Mark Tainton told the club's official website.

"I know Dan well from his time in the Ireland international set-up. His knowledge of the game at the highest level, as well as his leadership skills, will be of significant benefit to the team."

Tuohy added: "When speaking to Mark, it was clear to see the vision he had for the club. I am very excited to have the opportunity to add something to the group.

"I want to thank Ulster Rugby and the IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) for the past seven-and-a-half years, and wish them the very best in the future. My attention now turns to helping Bristol retain their place in the Premiership."

England name Yarde in starting line-up

Marland Yarde will start. Credit: PA

England have named Marland Yarde on the right wing and Nathan Hughes at number eight for Saturday's match against Australia at Twickenham, the Rugby Football Union has announced.

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Vunipola passed fit to face Fiji at Twickenham

Billy Vunipola will play for England against Fiji. Credit: PA

England number eight Billy Vunipola has been passed fit to start Saturday's clash with Fiji at Twickenham.

Vunipola has been unable to train fully this week due to an injury described by the Grand Slam champions as 'upper body soreness' and he missed Thursday's final session.

However, the Saracen has been cleared to start in a back row that sees Teimana Harrison displace Tom Wood at openside in the only change to the pack that subdued South Africa 37-21 last weekend.

All three of the injury doubts that delayed England's team announcement until Friday morning have been cleared to participate in the second autumn international.

Elliot Daly has overcome his 'upper body injury' to start on the left wing, enabling Jonathan Joseph to return at outside centre, and Nathan Hughes has recovered from a 'lower leg injury' to supply back row cover on the bench.

The final two changes to the team that toppled the Springboks see Semesa Rokoduguni replace Marland Yarde on the right wing and Alex Goode preferred to Mike Brown at full-back.

Team to face Fiji:

A Goode (Saracens); S Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby), J Joseph (Bath Rugby), O Farrell (Saracens), E Daly (Wasps); G Ford (Bath Rugby), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers); M Vunipola (Saracens), D Hartley (Northampton Saints, capt), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), C Robshaw (Harlequins), T Harrison (Northampton Saints), B Vunipola (Saracens).

Replacements: J George (Saracens), J Marler (Harlequins), K Sinckler (Harlequins), C Ewels (Bath Rugby), N Hughes (Wasps), D Care (Harlequins), B Te'o (Worcester Warriors), H Slade (Exeter Chiefs).

England delay naming team to give trio chance to be fit

England will name their side on Friday morning. Credit: PA

England have delayed naming their team for their clash with Fiji until Friday morning to give Billy Vunipola, Nathan Hughes and Elliot Daly every chance to prove their fitness.

Vunipola has upper body soreness, Hughes is struggling with a lower leg injury and Daly has an upper body injury and a decision has yet to be reached on their availability for the second autumn international at Twickenham on Saturday.

"There are a few injury concerns which we're sorting through at the moment. We're announcing the team on Friday," head coach Eddie Jones said.

Teams have traditionally been named 48 hours before kick-off but England have not broken any regulations in postponing until the eve of the match.

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