The Premiership is producing some of the best rugby that it ever has, and the lack of England internationals over the coming weeks will make games even more unpredictable.
Eddie Jones’s autumn squad is already at a training camp in Jersey, meaning a host of stars are unavailable for selection on a weekend full of derbies.
At Kingsholm on Friday, Exeter will be without the likes of Jonny Hill, Henry Slade and Sam Simmonds, among others.
Gloucester’s two England absentees, Mark Atkinson and Jonny May, will be losses to the side but their impact can easily be covered by the likes of Louis Rees-Zammit and Billy Twelvetrees.
Premiership derby days
Leicester on the other hand could struggle against a Northampton Saints side who demolished Worcester Warriors last weekend.
The Tigers are without their captain Ellis Genge, hooker Nic Dolly and most instrumentally their full-back Freddie Steward.
Steward has been sensational for Leicester across the last 12 months, and has earned his spot in Jones’s set-up.
Pulling the strings for either side will be Leicester’s George Ford, playing with something to prove after he was left out of the national set-up, and Saints’ Dan Biggar, who will be aiming to have an injury-free game before he joins up with the Wales squad.
While the international windows and fixture selection has deprived us of a match-up between England No10s Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith, the premiership derby between Saracens and Harlequins will be must-watch television.
Joe Marler, Alex Dombrandt, Smith and Joe Marchant – the spine of Quins’ side – will be absent and they could be undone by the depth of Sarries as a result.
Despite the lack of England players in the league this weekend, this is what I love about the Premiership.
It’s so competitive; one team that’s desperate for the international window can topple a side who’ll lose a few players.
Bath will have been eyeing this period for a few weeks as it’s their shot at a win. Where it will come from, I really have no idea. They face an injury-ridden Wasps this weekend but they’re in a rut.
Wales’ stiff opposition
For those players who are playing internationals this weekend, what a few games we have in store.
Wales take on a jubilant All Black side fresh off their 100-point win over the US. Without the likes of Biggar, Rees-Zammit and Sheedy, Wales aren’t at full strength but they’ve got a side there who’ll give it a good go.
I don’t see them getting too close over 80 minutes.
Scotland have Tonga in Edinburgh in a game they’ll see as a chance to rack up points. That said, you never know which Scotland side will turn up; they either look superb or a little bit sluggish.
Who wouldn’t be interested in watching rugby right now? It’s going to be a great weekend.