Jeremy Guscott Q&A: Premiership semis, Lions picks, Bath v Chiefs

 

Among the topics Jerry discusses this week are:

- Warren Gatland's Lions selections

- Harlequins' chances of reaching a second successive Premiership final?

- The choice of stadiums for the 2015 Rugby World Cup

- Have Exeter replaced Bath as the kings of the west?

- Should Wales be giving James Hook another look?

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.

Hi Jerry, the squad is now picked, differences are to be put aside and the series won. What are the key personality traits of a really good Lion, and who was the best tour member you travelled with? Stuart

Hi Stuart, I have partially answered this before about the three attributes required from a player for a Lions tour, but as for your other question I don't think any one Lions player would be the best member of a tour. During my experiences I was fortunate to travel with friends and make friends. The tour is all about integration and getting to know one another, sometimes you might not become close friends but you have massive respect for anyone on the tour so long as they put in the yards on and off the field.

Hi Jerry, how do you rate Harlequins' chances of making a second consecutive final? They haven't lost at Welford Road in their last two matches and have won four of their last five against Leicester. But Leicester have so much more experience at this stage of the competition. Quins Lad

Sean Maitland

Sean Maitland of Scotland has a good chance of forcing his way into the Lions Test team

Quins have a great opportunity. These games can be so twitchy with nerves and adrenaline flying all over the place. Tigers are under pressure because if they don't win the Premiership that would make it three seasons without the trophy and for the biggest club in England that would be disappointing. Quins will be desperate to retain the title, but will need a big all-round performance rather than an individual pulling something from the hat. Home advantage, despite Quins' record, will be enormous, I'll go for a home win.

Hi Jerry, How do you rate Northampton's chances against Saracens on Sunday? Their form hasn't been great against the top four teams in recent seasons but the pack has been sensational all season. Could that be the difference? rugby10

Hi rugby 10, not many would bet against Sarries at home but like you say, if Saints' pack could do a number on the Sarries' pack the rest of the team don't have many places to go because of their style. Having said that, again like you say, Saints aren't great against the better teams in the league so what can change? I'll go for another home win.

Having watched the Connacht v Glasgow match on Friday night, and seeing the massive influence Stuart Hogg had on the game after coming on at fly-half, coupled with the direct running of Sean Maitland which ensured a comfortable victory, do you think that these two could play themselves into starting contention for the Lions over the course of the Pro-12 play-offs? Michael1991

Hi Michael, to be blunt I believe Maitland has an opportunity - Hogg's chances are less so. Leigh Halfpenny will start in the Test team for his kicking - that will be at 15 or on the wing, but he will start unless he gets injured. You've got to think George North will make it, the other wing is up for grabs and Maitland is very talented, so he has as good a chance as any.

Jeremy, James Hook has said this week that he is aware that he does not feature in Wales' plans, as they opt for big players to get over the gameline. As a proud Welshman I am happy to see Wales doing well but feel that some raw attacking talent is being neglected and against the better teams Wales' "bash it up" style doesn't work. Do you think Wales should try and reintegrate Hook into the team? Will13

Hi Will 13, given the talent Wales have in the centre, personally, I wouldn't pick Hook there either but I would seriously consider him at 10. There's something about Hook's play that Warren Gatland and Rob Howley don't like that prevents him getting the nod over the likes of Dan Biggar. Wales have done OK without him running the show and it's likely to continue unless there are injuries.

Who in your opinion will be the surprise bolter on the Lions squad going to Australia? I think Ben Youngs will have a great tour, but I also think Sean Maitland will have an excellent tour and will push for a starting place in the Test team. Thoughts? Rugbyfan2012

Owen Farrell

Jeremy Guscott does not expect Owen Farrell to be the Lions' first-choice fly-half

Hi Rugbyfan, you can never know who the surprise picks might be for the Tests, it is all about producing brilliant performances in those first three or four match opportunities you get before the Tests begin. A real shock for me would be if Owen Farrell got ahead of Jonny Sexton for the Tests, but anything is possible on a Lions tour.

Hi Jerry, how concerned are you by the demise of Bath as a force within the Aviva? Having failed to qualify for the Heineken Cup, do you see Exeter Chiefs as having replaced them as the new force in the West Country? Owain ap Gruffudd

Hi Owain, Where Bath have finished has not surprised me, given their squad of players. I said at the beginning of the season they were a mid-table squad. Exeter have found a way to win with a group of players that get what their coach requires from them; they have a brilliant understanding and the environment created has worked. I don't believe Exeter have surpassed Bath as a brand in rugby but certainly their last two campaigns have been more successful than Bath's and they deserve their success. Next season is huge for Bath, the new coaches have had time to work with players and bring in new ones; if they don't qualify for Europe next time round some coaches and players will be gone.

Hi Jerry, Simply put, Hartley is on the Lions tour and Best isn't, what is Gatland thinking? Chris and:

Hi Jerry, is Rory Best (who was left out of the Lions squad) simply a victim of the physical game plan Gatland has chosen? JackR

Best made a lot of people's squads but was left out of the most important and that's how the cookie crumbles sometimes. Gatland and his coaches have a plan and unfortunately for Best they don't include him, but there's always that chance he could be an injury replacement and prove them wrong.

Hi Jeremy, Everyone keeps talking about Christian Wade and Jonny May for the England tour this summer, but people are forgetting Charlie Sharples. Why? In my opinion he is the best wing in the Premiership. Davies

Hi Davies, you said it: "In my opinion". There's nothing wrong with that, it's just you're not picking the England squad and neither am I. Charlie Sharples seems to have been dealt a tough hand this season, making squads and teams and then being left out for no real apparent reason. Hard decisions have to be made all the the time. At the moment Charlie's getting a few against him, hopefully for him he'll get some good breaks. Wade and May are getting headlines because they're scoring some great tries and currently Charlie isn't.

Hi Jerry, Surely the addition of the Olympic stadium to the World Cup venues is no bad thing, but do you agree that it is a great shame more rugby grounds aren't involved, such as snubbing Leicester's Welford Road and its rugby history and pedigree, in favour of yet another football ground, just a quarter of a mile down the road, presumably for the sake of 6,000 seats? Tnoakes

Hi Tnoakes, I agree it's a great shame Welford Road isn't being used for the sake of 6,000 seats. It's a sign of the professional era, England bought the RWC and have to pay for it and an extra £250-350k might be the difference between financial success and failure.