Jeremy Guscott's Six Nations Q&A
Among the topics Jerry discusses this week are:
- whether the wounded French can upset England at Twickenham
- the make-up of Wales' midfield and half-backs
- can Scotland take advantage of injury-ravaged Ireland?
- Lions coach Warren Gatland's comments on picking English players
- possible Lions scrum-halves and full-backs
Jerry answers questions posted on the website at the start of every week - entries are now closed for this Q&A. This week's answers appear below.
It wouldn't surprise me a bit if France beat England on Saturday and not because the English aren't good enough, but because that's what France do - go from the worst team in the Six Nations to the best on a weekly basis. How would you advise the English players taking the field under the growing pressure of a possible Grand Slam? Dragonborn
After seeing how well France can play during the autumn internationals, what do you think the chances are that they return to that form for the game against England on Saturday? Could we possibly see a giant upset? JamesMathew
I'm sure the message from Stuart Lancaster to his team won't change from what it's been from the time he took over: let's respect the opposition, understand what they are capable of and play our game. The expectation will be for England to win but they will know unless they play to the level of their last few games they won't beat France.
Judging by performances to date, I would expect a home win for England. They come into this game relatively unaffected by injuries and performances have been good. Of course, France could recapture the form shown in the autumn and that would make it a humdinger of a game. I will be doing a prediction later on in the week.
Do you think that the Welsh midfield (10-12-13) is too one-dimensional, with the emphasis being on the collision? Rhys Priestland's precision distribution was used creatively during the World Cup and last year's Six Nations, but without this I wonder whether we would benefit from a creative player such as James Hook in the mix, as I believe this would also maximise our use of a specialist seven. ValleyCommando
The performances of 10-12-13 are to a large extent dependent on the speed of ball they receive and recently it hasn't been anywhere near good enough. When the Welsh forwards start delivering the quick ball I'm sure you will see better performances from them all. I don't believe James Hook would make that much difference with the ball Dan Biggar has been getting in the last two games. Confidence should be better going into the the Italian game, build on that with a low error and penalty game and Wales should win a hard match in Rome.
In my opinion Ireland are now missing six of their first-choice 15. Teams like England and France can cope with this due to their large player pools but Ireland seem to struggle. Coach Declan Kidney will revert to his cautious approach and pick Ronan O'Gara at 10. Ian Madigan should be given a start and have Paddy Jackson on the bench. Himself and JJ Hanrahan are Ireland's best young 10s. Who would you go with at 10/12? Luke20311
By having Ronan O'Gara on the bench at the start of this Six Nations it would seem very odd to suddenly make him redundant and go for the less experienced lads. Kidney has made it clear, by his selection of O'Gara, that Jackson isn't ready but I would disagree. Looking at the Rugby World Cup, O'Gara would do well to make it and Kidney needs to blood a few more youngsters into the squad by selection rather than forced by injuries. Craig Gilroy and Simon Zebo have had the exposure and played well, and I believe a player of Jackson's quality would do the same. I would start with O'Gara at 10 because of continuity. The 12 shirt is more difficult but I would pick Luke Marshall.
Given the nature of Ireland's defeat by England and the growing injury list, do you think this is an opportunity for Scotland to show they are making genuine progress this weekend by beating Ireland at home? An Honest Rucker
If Scotland can beat Ireland this week it will be a massive boost to confidence and go a long way to recapturing the belief they showed during last summer's tour. Ireland are hanging with injuries, they are there for the taking at home. I believe Scotland will win this one, although I wish it was being played on a Saturday so Euan Murray could play.
The burning question of the moment for the Lions: Stuart Hogg or Leigh Halfpenny for the 15 jersey? Dale
Hi Dale, Hogg has certainly played well enough to make Warren Gatland take notice but I don't think he's a better option than Rob Kearney or Halfpenny just yet.
Martyn Williams on Wales v Italy
"It sounds strange but I think they have got the 'easy' one out of the way. Nobody gave them a chance in Paris and that created a siege mentality within the squad.
"Now they have to regroup because Italy is such a tough away game. Everyone will be expecting them to win"
I would be interested in your thoughts on Warren Gatland's statements last week. I don't think there was any ambiguity or misunderstanding in what he said or meant. He has picked two of the England coaches responsible for the turnaround in the English game and disciplinary record, so why discriminate against the players? Peter G
While a lot was made of Gatland's comments about the England players' chances of making the Lions tour, I thought his later comments were actually worse. Instead of saying he didn't mean what he said and apologising, he turned it around and said people were wrong to misinterpret what he said. If he is as careless with his words to the squad, surely he is the wrong choice? JollyEric
I was shocked to see Warren Gatland's comments regarding selecting England players for the Lions. At worst they seemed to show an inherent bias in his selection ideas and at best a complete naivety when dealing with the press. Should he be allowed to stay in the role? TheLastKingofEngland
Hi all, if we go by what Warren Gatland is quoted as saying then he made a boo-boo of large proportions but thankfully it's happened now and not in four months' time, 10,000 miles away. I believe he was trying to talk about how much attention had been focused on the England team off the field in the last couple of years and he got it wrong. He shouldn't have even been talking about that and re-directed any questioning back to here and now. It was a bit of a schoolboy error. From here on in I wouldn't expect any more comments that could be misinterpreted. He's just realised how much bigger it is to be the Lions head coach than any other job he's had before.
During your time with the Lions did you ever sense any sort of division between the English and Celtic nations? UnitedWonTheTitleIn1992
On a Lions tour there are only Lions no English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh, just Lions. It's more than a privilege to play for the Lions, it's unique; the only time I've been wished good luck by the Welsh, Irish and Scottish supporters and that's something I look back on and cherish.
After scoring a sensational try at the weekend and controlling the game really well, what more does Danny Care have to do to replace Ben Youngs at scrum-half for England? Do you think his explosive acceleration means he is viewed as a better impact sub, thereby limiting the opportunities he has as a starter? Jayking90
Without doubt Care played very well and so did Ben Youngs against Ireland - but I don't believe Youngs will be replaced. It's great for Stuart Lancaster to have these two playing so well and they will be fighting for that number nine shirt for a few seasons yet.
Seeing as Cian Healy only misses two internationals, do you think the ban is long enough? Surely the intent was there to warrant a longer ban, even if Dan Cole was lucky to escape injury. Impala66
I wouldn't have been surprised if Healy was banned for longer, let's hope he has learnt his lesson.
Does Lloyd Willams deserve a start for Wales? Although Mike Phillips's performance was better against France, do you think Lloyd deserves his chance? Also, what scrum- halves would you take on the Lions tour? Chris Woosnam
Because Mike Phillips played better in the French game he deserves his place again but it is good to see Lloyd Williams coming back to form. My Lions scrum-halves on current form would be Youngs, Care and Phillips.
Out of all the back lines in the Six Nations which one would you like to play in yourself? (You can't pick England purely on the basis that you are English) Will 13
I would play in the Welsh back line. Playing off the likes of Alex Cuthbert, George North and Jamie Roberts would be good fun.