This summer, the focus will be on the British and Irish Lions as they take on the All Blacks however, that is not the only rugby activity on over the next month or so.
The action doesn’t stop for England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, they all have their own tours to negotiate throughout June. With so many players headed on the Lions Tour, it is a great opportuntiy for fringe players to show what they can do and make a mark in their national colours.
England face arguably the toughest tour of the four nations with a two-Test trip to Argentina. With a large number of their players in the Lions set-up, it could be a long couple of weeks for England.
The squad has seen a major facelift for this tour with a lot of new names who have been impressing in the Aviva Premiership.
The Curry twins look to be the next big things in the England back row, Piers Francis could be an interesting new playmaker and Joe Cokanasiga looks a really strong finisher.
The 28-14 win over the Barbarians at Twickenham will give Eddie Jones something smile about heading to Argentina.
Anything less than a 2-0 series win over Argentina would be considered a poor tour by Eddie Jones and England’s high standards.
vs. Argentina, Estadio Bicentenario (San Juan), 19:15 (BST), 10th June
vs. Argentina, Estadio Brigadier Estanislao Lopez (Santa Fe), 19:15 (BST), 17th June
Predicted England XV
1 Ellis Genge (Leicester) 2 Dylan Hartley (Captain, Northampton) 3 Will Collier (Harlequins) 4 Joe Launchbury (Wasps) 5 Charlie Ewels (Bath) 6 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins) 7 Tom Curry (Sale) 8 Nathan Hughes (Wasps).
9 Danny Care (Harlequins) 10 George Ford (Bath) 11 Jonny May (Gloucester) 12 Henry Slade (Exeter) 13 Sam James (Sale) 14 Nathan Earle (Saracens) 15 Mike Brown (Harlequins).
Ireland are missing a host of players with the Lions but have a rather simpler tour than, say England or Scotland.
Trips to either side of the Pacific will demand a large amount of travelling, a number of Ireland’s senior players will also be there. Cian Healy, Keith Earls and Simon Zebo will all be among the travelling party.
The tour may look to give the likes of Niall Scannell, Gary Ringrose and Josh van der Flier a chance to show that they can become mainstays in an Irish XV for the November internationals.
Despite both Leinster and Munster losing to the Scarlets in recetn weeks, and both Irish provinces crashing out of the Champions Cup in the semi-finals Ireland look strong and should be buoyed ahead of this tour.
Three wins is the only option for Ireland.
vs. USA, Red Bull Arena (Harrison), 21:00 (BST), 10th June
vs. Japan, Shizuoka Stadium (Shizuoka), 07:00 (BST), 17th June
vs. Japan, Ajinomoto Stadium (Tokyo), 07:40 (BST), 24th June
Predicted Ireland XV
1 Cian Healy (Leinster) 2 Niall Scannell (Munster) 3 Finlay Bealham (Connacht) 4 Devin Toner (Leinster) 5 Quinn Roux (Connacht) 6 Rhys Ruddock (Leinster) 7 Josh van der Flier (Leinster) 8 Jack Conan (Leinster).
9 Kieran Marmion (Connacht) 10 Paddy Jackson (Ulster) 11 Andrew Conway (Munster) 12 Luke Marshall (Ulster) 13 Gary Ringrose (Leinster) 14 Simon Zebo (Captain, Munster) 15 Tiernan O’Halloran (Connacht).
Scotland face three games on a whistle-stop tour of the southern hemisphere despite facing one Test against familiar foe, Italy.
Scotland will only have three players away with the Lions following Greig Laidlaw’s call-up after Ben Youngs’ late withdrawal.
This tour also marks the first games which Gregor Townsend will take charge of as Vern Cotter heads to France.
The former Scotland out-half has been a revelation at Glasgow and many Scottish supporters will be hoping he can bring that winning mentality to Scotland something which can go missing for Scotland on occasion.
A number of new caps have been selected George Turner, Sean Kennedy, D’Arcy Rae and Nick Grigg come into the side and it will be interesting to see how they will get on with them only afforded limited gamete at their respective clubs.
Scotland have to beat Italy and Fiji. Australia always seem to just about get over the line against Scotland expect a close affair there.
vs. Italy, National Stadium (Singapore), 12:00 (BST), 10th June
vs. Australia, Allianz Stadium (Sydney), 05:00 (BST), 17th June
vs. Fiji, ANZ National Stadium (Suva), 02:30 (BST), 24th June
Predicted Scotland XV
1 Allan Dell (Edinburgh) 2 Fraser Brown (Glasgow) 3 WP Nel (Edinburgh) 4 Tim Swinson (Glasgow) 5 Jonny Gray (Captain, Glasgow) 6 John Barclay (Captain, Scarlets) 7 Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) 8 Josh Strauss (Glasgow).
9 Ali Price (Glasgow) 10 Finn Russell (Glasgow) 11 Tim Visser (Harlequins) 12 Matt Scott (Gloucester) 13 Duncan Taylor (Saracens) 14 Lee Jones (Glasgow) 15 Peter Horne (Glasgow).
Wales’ tour on the face of it looks like an end of season trip to the South Seas, but these tests will be physically brutal.
Wales like Ireland are missing a whole host of stars but have some really exciting backs in this squad especially out wide Keelan Giles, Steffan Evans and Rhun Williams look to be the future of the Wales back three. Unfortunately Williams is ruled out with injury but it is still an enticing prospect.
A mixed year for Wales raised some eyebrows and, with the majority of the Welsh coaching staff in New Zealand, the touring party rests in the hands of Robin McBryde to oversee proceedings.
Scarlets’ surprise Pro12 triumph is massive positive for Welsh rugby as a whole and could well give way to a number of new caps.
Wales know that they have to cap off this season with some wins and comprehensive ones at that, an unbeaten tour is the only way to be judged a success.
vs. Tonga, Eden Park (Auckland), 05:30 (BST), 16th June
vs. Samoa, Apia Park (Apia), 08:30 (BST), 23rd June
Predicted Wales XV
1 Nicky Smith (Ospreys) 2 Scott Baldwin (Ospreys) 3 Tomas Francis (Exeter) 4 Rory Thornton (Scarlets) 5 Jake Ball (Ospreys) 6 Aaron Shingler (Scarlets) 7 Thomas Young (Wasps) 8 Josh Navidi (Cardiff).
9 Gareth Davies (Scarlets) 10 Sam Davies (Ospreys) 11 Keelan Giles (Ospreys) 12 Jamie Roberts (Captain, Harlequins) 13 Scott Williams (Scarlets) 14 Steffan Evans (Scarlets) 15 Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff).
Fred Blagden, Pundit Arena
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