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Farrell to make minimal changes to Six Nations squad; FBD Semple joins corporate club

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Today is Six Nations squad day. Later on we will discover the list of names Andy Farrell has tasked with turning Ireland's stellar autumn form into springtime success. Gerry Thornley casts his eye over where things stand and the first issue that jumps out is just how little game time many players have had due to Covid. The most pressing concerns seem to come at outhalf - where out of the likely three options selected, only Jack Carty has had a regular run of games - and secondrow. James Ryan and Iain Henderson, the incumbent starting pair, have not played since the last internationals, though the impressive form of Tadhg Beirne should offset this somewhat. Gordon D'Arcy touches again on the outhalf issue in his column this morning. While dealing with the issue of continuity from the autumn into the Six Nations, he makes an interesting point on the development of Jack Crowley thanks to recent opportunities with Munster: "He owed his opportunity to injury and up until recently wasn't an option that Munster head Johann van Graan was willing to pursue in the 10 jersey but the way in which Crowley plays the game very much fits the attacking shape that Farrell and backs' coach Mike Catt are honing with Ireland."

Seán Moran discusses GAA's development funding topic in the midst of a campaign to revise the amount of funding being allocated to Dublin as part of a review of all games development grants. Though it seems likely that the proposal on 'Fair and equitable coaching and development funding' would find the 60 per cent weighted majority too high a bar to clear, given the time dedicated to drafting the proposal and the amount of counties that back it, does it not deserve a hearing at congress? It was announced yesterday that Semple Stadium has had its naming rights sold as is from now to be referred to as FBD Semple Stadium. Keith Duggan takes a look at the ever-growing history of famous stadiums succumbing to the temptations of corporate naming rights. In action on the pitch, last night saw Donegal and Monaghan progress to the McKenna Cup final.

Chelsea's title hopes took a further turn for the worse after a disappointing draw away to Brighton at the Amex Stadium yesterday. Brighton were the stronger side all evening and the European champions, who are winless in four league games, can surely now forget about reeling in Manchester City at the top of the standings. Comoros provided the shock of the tournament so far after knocking Ghana out of the Africa Cup of Nations following the 3-2 win. The result saw Comoros' first ever goal at the continental competition, while it was also the first time Ghana have competed and failed to win a group game. Comoros now have an outside chance of progressing as one of the best third place group finishers, thought their goal difference is likely to hinder them.

Rafael Nadal safely progressed to the third round of the Australian Open overnight after defeating German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann. The Spanish sixth seed needed five match points to finish the job, but by and large was untroubled during the straight sets win. Surveillance and athlete safety concerns continue to swirl ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics next month. Human rights groups have warned that athletes face an "Orwellian surveillance state" during their time in the country while it has also emerged that Team USA athletes have been explicitly told not to speak out on any human rights issues.