Ireland, the Six Nations champions and hot tips for a strong World Cup campaign next month, have taken another step towards finalising their squad by sending two players – the Leinster centre Noel Reid and the Ulster hooker Rob Herring – back to their provincial teams.
Having already lost the impressive Munster flanker Tommy O’Donnell to injury, they could make further cuts to their training group by the end of the week.
Wales are also in trimming mode, with a cull expected on Wednesday following a training session in Colwyn Bay.
Two Lions tourists, the outside-half James Hook and the scrum-half Mike Phillips, are thought to be in the firing line, although the Red Dragons’ midfield options are thin enough to give Hook some hope of a reprieve.
Scotland have yet to make any decisive move on the selection front – the Glasgow half-back Henry Pyrgos will lead an experimental side in their warm-up game against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
However, one of Scotland’s serious pool-stage rivals, Samoa, have declared their hand. The London Irish back-rower Ofisa Treviranus will lead a party boasting a number of fellow England-based players including the Newcastle wing Alesana Tuilagi, the Sale centre Johnny Leota, the Leicester prop Logovi’i Mulipola, the Bath flanker Alafoti Fa’osiliva, the Bristol breakaway Jack Lam and three of Northampton’s expensively recruited squad: the scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i and the Pisi brothers, George and Ken, who play at outside centre and wing respectively.