Rugby World Cup 2023 Week 2 preview, lineups, predictions

Eddie Jones on crowd traitor calls: 'It didn't really hurt' (1:17)

Wallabies coach Eddie Jones discusses his response to comments from the crowd questioning his loyalty, and the attitude he wants the team to channel. (1:17)

The countdown is over, the 2023 Rugby World Cup has finally arrived and we were treated to an absolute spectacle across the opening weekend.

The action continues from Thursday, when hosts France take on Uruguay, before New Zealand face Namibia the following day; meanwhile, Tonga and Samoa begin their World Cup campaigns against Ireland and Chile respectively. Read ahead for team lists and previews.

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Jump ahead to a particular game.

France vs. Uruguay

New Zealand vs. Namibia

Samoa vs. Chile

Wales vs. Portugal

Ireland vs. Tonga

South Africa vs. Romania

Australia vs. Fiji

England vs. Japan

Thursday, September 14

France vs. Uruguay, Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille (9p.m. local / 5am AEST / 8pm GMT)

France: Melvyn Jaminet, Louis Bielle-Biarrey, Arthur Vincent, Yoram Moefana, Gabin Villiere, Antoine Hastoy, Maxime Lucu; Anthony Jelonch (captain), Sekou Macalou, Paul Boudehent, Romain Taofifenua, Cameron Woki, Dorian Aldegheri, Pierre Bourgarit, Jean-Baptiste Gros.

Replacements: Peato Mauvaka, Reda Wardi, Sipili Falatea, Bastien Chalureau, Thibaud Flament, François Cros, Baptiste Couilloud, Thomas Ramos.

Uruguay: Baltazar Amaya, Bautista Basso, Tomas Inciarte, Andres Vilaseca (captain), Nicolas Freitas, Felipe Etcheverry, Santiago Arata, Manuel Diana, Santiago Civetta, Manuel Ardao, Manuel Leindekar, Felipe Aliaga, Ignacio Peculo, Guillermo Pujadas, Mateo Sanguinetti.

Replacements: Felipe Berchesi, Agustin Ormaechea, Carlos Deus, Lucas Bianchi, Ignacio Dotti, Reinaldo Piussi, Matias Benitez, Facundo Gattas.

Verdict: This will be a walk in the park for France, compared with their opening assignment, which finished in a resounding 26-13 victory over the All Blacks. That was always going to be the hardest game of the hosts' Pool A run, with the next two outings against Uruguay and Namibia affording Les Bleus the opportunity to finetune their game plan for the sterner test of Italy.

Coach Fabien Galthie has taken the chance to rest some of his frontline starts after the bruising encounter against New Zealand, with skipper Antoine Dupont, Matthieu Jalibert, Gregory Aldritt, Damian Penaud, Charles Ollivon, Uini Atonio and Gael Fickou all sitting this one out.

Uruguay will enter this game fresh having not been involved in Week 1 action; an upset victory is beyond them, but they will look to build some sort of momentum, or, better yet, continuity, before they play their effective 'final' against Namibia in two weeks' time. The South Americans will have taken heart from neighbours' Chile's gutsy showing against Japan last weekend, and a similar effort in which they empty the tank will do the developing rugby nation proud.

Tip: France by 48.


Friday, September 15

New Zealand vs. Namibia, Stadium de Toulouse (9p.m. local / 5a.m. AEST / 8p.m. GMT)

New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Caleb Clarke, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Damian McKenzie, Cam Roigard, Ardie Savea (captain), Dalton Papali'i, Luke Jacobson, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Ofa Tu'ungafasi.

Replacements: Rieko Ioane, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith, Tupou Vaa'i, Scott Barrett, Fletcher Newell, Ethan de Groot, Dane Coles.

Namibia: Cliven Loubser, Gerswin Mouton, Johan Deysel (captain), Le Roux Malan, Divan Rossouw, Tiaan Swanepoel, Damian Stevens, Richard Hardwick, Prince Gaoseb, Wian Conradie, Tjiuee Uanivi, Johan Retief, Aranos Coetzee, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Jason Benade.

Replacements: JC Greyling, Jacques Theron, Max Katjijeko, Adriaan Booysen, Pieter-Jan van Lil, Haitembu Shikufa, Desiderius Sethie, Louis van der Westhuizen.

Verdict: Sam Whitelock will join Richie McCaw as the most-capped All Black of all time when he runs out for his 148th Test in Toulouse on Friday night. The veteran lock, who is playing at his final World Cup, is joined in the second-row by Brodie Retallick, who had to expedite his return from injury when skipper Sam Cane was a late withdrawal against France last week.

All Blacks coach Ian Foster has otherwise made a raft of changes to the starting team that faced France, with only Beauden Barrett, stand-in skipper Ardie Savea, Dalton Papali'i, Anton Lienert-Brown and and Whitelock retained from the team beaten 26-13 by Les Bleus.

New Zealand will have little trouble accounting for Namibia, with outside backs Leicester Fainga'anuku and Caleb Clarke set to run riot against the Africans, who kicked off their campaign with a 52-8 loss to Italy. The All Blacks are a class up on Italy again, so this could be a long night for Namibia, whom New Zealand beat 71-9 in Japan four years ago. The ton could be in danger here.

Tip: All Blacks by 80.

Saturday, September 16

Samoa vs. Chile, Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux (3p.m. local / 11p.m. AEST / 2p.m. GMT)

Samoa: Duncan Paia'aua, Danny Toala, Ulopano Junior Seuteni, Tumua Manu, Nigel Ah-Wong, Christian Leali'ifano, Jonathan Taumateine, Steven Luatua Fritz Lee, Taleni Junior Agaese Seu, Theo McFarland, Chris Vui, Michael Alaalatoa (c), Seilala Lam, James Lay.

Replacements: Sama Malolo, Jordan Lay, Paul Alo-Emile, Sam Slade, Sa Jordan Taufua, Ereatara Enari, Lima Sopoaga, Ed Fidow

Chile: Inaki Ayarza, Santiago Videla, Domingo Saavedra, Matias Garafulic, Jose Ignacio Larenas, Rodrigo Fernandez, Marcelo Torrealba; Raimundo Martínez, Clemente Saavedra, Martín Sigren (c), Santiago Pedrero, Pablo Huete, Matias Dittus, Tomas Dussaillant, Javier Carrasco

Replacements: Diego Escobar, Salvador Lues, Esteban Inostroza, Javier Eissmann, Alfonso Escobar, Ignacio Silva, Benjamin Videla, Pablo Casas

Verdict: A rested Samoa will be looking to make inroads into the Pool D standings in this clash with Chile, who were anything but disgraced in their first up outing with Japan. The South Americans scored the first try in that match and showed plenty of attacking endeavour throughout, but were let down by their indiscipline which brought about two yellow cards.

This is a game that the Samoans should win however, particular now they have been bolstered by ex-All Blacks Steven Luatua and Lima Sopoaga, and former Wallabies pivot Christian Leali'ifano who starts ahead of his Kiwi counterpart in the No. 10 jersey. Samoa were impressive in a narrow warmup loss to Ireland, and have plenty of attacking weapons of their own to sting the Chileans.

A big focus for Samoa will be their set-piece, which will come under greater pressure later in the tournament against England and Argentina. If the Samoans are serious about sneaking into the quarterfinals, a bonus-point win feels like a non-negotiable return here. They have the ability to get it, too, though the Chileans showed enough last week to suggest they won't roll over easily. Look for the Samoans' greater physicality to take its toll on Chile in the second half.

Tip: Samoa by 15

Wales vs. Portugal, Stade de Nice, Nice (5:45p.m. local / 1:45a.m. AEST / 4:45pm GMT)

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Louis Rees Zammit, Mason Grady, Johnny Williams, Rio Dyer, Gareth Anscombe, Tomos Williams, Taulupe Faletau, Tommy Reffell, Dan Lydiate, Dafydd Jenkins, Christ Tshiunza, Dillon Lewis, Dewi Lake (captain), Nicky Smith.

Replacements: Josh Adams, Sam Costelow, Gareth Davies, Taine Basham, Adam Beard, Tomas Francis, Corey Domachowski, Ryan Elias.

Portugal: Nuno Sousa Guedes, Vincent Pinto, Jose Lima, Tomas Appleton (captain), Rodrigo Marta, Jeronimo Portela, Samuel Marques, Rafael Simoes, Nicolas Martins, Joao Granate, Steevy Cerqueira, José Madeira, Anthony Alves, Mike Tadjer, Francisco Fernandes.

Replacements: Raffaele Storti, Joris Moura, Pedro Lucas, David Wallis, Martim Belo, Diogo Hasse Ferreira, Lionel Campergue, David Costa.

Verdict: Wales have changed 13 from the team that secured an opening round win over Fiji at the weekend but Warren Gatland's side are not underestimating the threat of Portugal.

They're expecting Patrice Lagisquet's side to play a similarly expansive game to the one they faced at the weekend but due to the six-day turnaround, Gatland has opted to chop and change the team. Gareth Anscombe is back at fly-half for Wales as he completes a remarkable return to the team after he missed the World Cup four years ago with a horrific leg injury. Elsewhere Gatland has gone for the all-Exeter pairing of Dafydd Jenkins and Christ Tshiunza while Dewi Lake captains the team.

"I stated beforehand 'don't write us off', that this team is capable of doing something special and I still believe that," Gatland said.

"Part of the key themes and key message before this World Cup was make sure we're a bloody hard team to beat and if we're a hard team to beat, then things can happen for you."

Tip: Wales should win this by 40 or so points.

Ireland vs. Tonga, Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes (9p.m. local / 5a.m. AEST/ 8p.m. GMT)

Ireland: Hugo Keenan; Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Conor Murray; Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Peter O'Mahony, James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Tadhg Furlong, Rónan Kelleher, Andrew Porter,

Replacements: Rob Herring, Dave Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, Ryan Baird, Craig Casey, Ross Byrne, Robbie Henshaw.

Tonga: Charles Piutau, Afusipa Taumoepeau, Malakai Fekitoa, Pita Ahki, Solomone Kata, Otumaka Mausia, Augustine Pulu; Vaea Fifita, Sione Talitui, Tanginoa Halaifonua, Leva Fifita, Sam Lousi, Ben Tameifuna (captain), Paula Ngauamo, Siegfried Fisi'ihoi

Replacements: Sam Moli, Tau Kolomatangi, Sosefo Apikotoa, Steve Mafi, Solomone Funaki, Sione Vailanu, Sonatane Takul, Fine Inisi.

Verdict: The pick of the games on Saturday, Ireland have taken no risks against Tonga by naming what is effectively full strength side, despite the looming presence of South Africa next weekend. It is a measure of respect for Tonga, who have assembled their strongest squad in recent memory with the acquisition of former All Blacks Malakai Fekitoa, Vaea Fifita and Charles Piutau.

Ireland were a tad slow out of the blocks last week but ran away to a massive victory over Romania, who wilted in the heat. It was a good first hit-out for Andy Farrell's side, but they will know they must go up a few levels against what will be a physical Tongan team.

Look for Ireland to apply the squeeze at set-piece time, and set a platform that affords them the time and space to execute their fluid passing game, which is all based around skipper Johnny Sexton. The one area where Tonga look weak is at No. 10 where Moana Pasifika's Willie Havili has been given the nod; he is an improving fly-half, but certainly one not of the class of Sexton.

If Tonga can apply some early scoreboard pressure and bring their noted physicality, then they may well be able to hang in the contest until after halftime. But Ireland's all-round class should shine through and result in a comfortable victory.

Tip: Ireland by 20


Sunday, September 17

South Africa vs. Romania, Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux (3p.m. local / 11p.m. AEST / 2p.m. UK)

South Africa: Willie Le Roux, Grant Williams, Canan Moodie, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi, Damian Willemse, Cobus Reinach, Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, Marvin Orie, Jean Kleyn, Vincent Koch, Mbongeni Mbonambi (captain), Ox Nche.

Replacements: Jesse Kriel, Faf de Klerk, Jaden Hendrikse, Jasper Wiese, RG Snyman, Trevor Nyakane, Steven Kitshoff, Deon Fourie.

Romania: Marius Simionescu, Tevita Manumua, Jason Tomane, Taylor Gontineac, Nicolas Onutu, Hinckley Vaovasa, Gabriel Rupanu, Cristian Chirica (captain), Vlad Neculau, Andre Gorin, Marius Iftimiciuc, Adrian Motoc, Alexandru Gordas, Ovidiu Cojocaru, Iulian Hartig.

Replacements: Robert Irimescu, Alexandru Savin, Thomas Cretu, Stefan Iancu, Damian Stratila, Cristi Boboc, Alin Conache, Gabriel Pop.

Verdict: The Springboks have made 14 changes to the team with only Damian Willemse keeping his spot, but he shifts from fullback to fly-half. This is a test of what Jacques Nienaber's built his squad on: versatility. There are (remarkably) four scrum-halves in this group with Grant Williams on the wing, Cobus Reinach at scrum-half, Jaden Hendrikse on the bench and Faf de Klerk - usually a No.9 - covering fly-half.

"I'm not being disrespectful to Romania but it's an opportunity to try him [De Klerk] out in a test match under pressure at 10. He's trained there for us numerous times," Nienaber said.

"We've said Faf is our third-choice fly-half but this is a nice opportunity to give him a run at 10, controlling the game at 10 at test-match level."

The Boks were rocked by Malcolm Marx's injury but they haven't called up a replacement yet, with Deon Fourie - usually a back-row - providing cover there from the bench. But the Boks are aiming to get the job done, without thinking of what's to come.

"If we in any way think of further games in the competition, it will be disrespectful to the players that we selected to play for South Africa and it will be disrespectful to the opponents," Nienaber said.

"It's not a risk for us. It is well calculated. We are comfortable with what we saw in training. We believe that the guys are good enough in those position to beat the opposition."

Tip: Boks by 50.

Australia vs. Fiji, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne (5:45p.m. local / 1:45a.m. / 4:45p.m. UK)

Australia: Ben Donaldson, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Jordan Petaia, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Carter Gordon, Nic White, Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight, Tom Hooper, Will Skelton, Nick Frost, James Slipper, Dave Porecki, Angus Bell.

Replacements: Jordan Uelese, Blake Shoupp, Zane Nonggorr, Richie Arnold, Rob Leota, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Lalaki Foketi, Suliasi Vunivalu.

Fiji: Ilaisa Droasese, Jiuta Wainiqolo, Waisea Nayacalevu (c), Josua Tuisova, Semi Radradra, Teti Tela, Simione Kuruvoli; Viliame Mata, Levani Botia, Lekima Tagitagivalu, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Isoa Nasilasila, Luke Tagi, Samuel Matavesi, Eroni Mawi

Replacements: Tevita Ikanivere Peni Ravai Mesake Doge Temo Mayanavanua Albert Tuisue, Frank Lomani, Vilimoni Botitu, Vinaya Habosi

Verdict: The biggest game of the weekend, this clash between the Wallabies and Fiji will go a long way to deciding who goes through from Pool C. A win for the Wallabies would have them in the box seat to progress alongside Wales, but if the Flying Fijians can do what they couldn't last Sunday then the pool could well be blown wide open.

Certainly Fiji seemed unlucky to go down to Wales after finishing with a withering burst, only a Semi Radradra knock-on stood between them and a shot at goal to win it. The Wallabies, meanwhile, saw of Georgia, but not before the Europeans really took it to them in the second half. And Australia have since been rocked by injuries to Taniela Tupou and then skipper Will Skelton, who was named in the team on Thursday despite having left the camp for scans on a calf injury. If Skelton joins Tupou on the sidelines, it will be a huge blow for Australia.

James Slipper's return offsets some of the damage done by Tupou's omission, while Nick Frost [lock] and Nic White [scrum-half] are the other new additions to the team that beat Georgia. Fiji have made several changes themselves with veteran Levani Botia and powerhouse centre Josua Tuisova back in the starting team, alongside scrum-half Simione Kuruvoli.

Given the closeness of the Wales-Fiji fixture, and what is on the line here, this looms as an incredibly tight game. While Australia snapped a run of five defeats last week, they weren't all that convincing and a desperate Fiji might just steal the upset this time around.

Tip: Fiji by 2

England vs. Japan, Stade de Nice, Nice (9p.m. local / 5a.m. AEST / 8p.m. GMT)

England: Freddie Steward, Jonny May, Joe Marchant, Manu Tuilagi, Elliot Daly, George Ford, Alex Mitchell; Lewis Ludlam, Ben Earl, Courtney Lawes (captain), Ollie Chessum, Maro Itoje, Kyle Sinckler Jamie George, Joe Marler.

Replacements: Theo Dan, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, George Martin, Billy Vunipola, Ben Youngs, Marcus Smith, Ollie Lawrence

Japan: Semisi Masirewa, Kotaro Matsushima, Tomoki Osada, Ryoto Nakamura, Jone Naikabula, Rikiya Matsuda, Yutaka Nagare, Kazuki Himeno (c), Pieter Labuschagne, Michael Leitch, Amato Fakatava, Jack Cornelsen, Jiwon Gu, Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki

Replacements: Atsushi Sakate Craig Millar Asaeli Ai Valu Warner Dearns Kanji Shimokawa Naoto Saito Dylan Riley, Lomano Lemeki.

Verdict: England have made three changes from the side that beat Argentina with Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler and Lewis Ludlam all starting while Billy Vunipola returns from his suspension and is on the bench. Ludlam comes into the side at No.8 with Ben Earl shifting to openside after Tom Curry was handed a two-match suspension for the red card he picked up against the Pumas.

For Japan, they make four changes with Shota Horie, Pieter Labuschagne and captain Kazuki Himeno coming into the forwards and Tomoki Osada at outside centre. The great Michael Leitch will create his own slice of Japan rugby history as he becomes the Brave Blossoms' most-capped player in the Rugby World Cup in what will be his 15th match.

The match will see England come up against their former defence coach John Mitchell who is on Japan's staff while they also have ex-England centre Riki Flutey among their management group.

Tip: Close first half but England will pull away to win by 15 points.