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Jeremy Guscott Q&A

Jeremy Guscott
Former England and Lions star Guscott is a BBC rugby union pundit

Former Bath, England and Lions centre Jeremy Guscott answers your questions after a weekend which saw England and Scotland pull off notable wins, but Wales get handed a lesson by New Zealand.

Among the topics he offers his views on are:

- England's performance and their prospects going forward

- Jonny Wilkinson's international future

- Scotland's future under coach Andy Robinson

- Whether Dan Biggar will be the next Wales fly-half

- And who's better: Shane Williams or Jason Robinson?


Hi Jerry, can England continue to improve from here or will we see what we've been seeing over the last few years, and watch them go downhill again? This time, however, I'm feeling very positive and hopeful for the future. Credit to the boys and management!
Sam , England

A much improved performance by England. Ben Youngs was superb and Tom Croft ruled the line-out. Do you think that England can capitalise on Saturday's win as a platform for the World Cup. And is this the team for the World Cup?
Josh, UK

Sam and Josh, I was very pleased with the England victory but happier with their performance, particularly in defence. Their physicality was impressive and more of a match for the Wallabies.

England celebrate their victory in Sydney
England celebrate a rare Test win on Australian soil

The team we watched on Saturday is unlikely to be the same for the start of the World Cup because there are still a number of positions up for grabs.

I think England have yet to fully decide on loose-head prop, hooker, second row, fly-half, the centres and one wing. That's not a bad place to be because competition for places is good. Will England continue to improve when we next see them in the autumn? That's the million dollar question, they've set a benchmark and if they fall below it, it will deservedly lead to criticism.

Do you think England's victory is just a false dawn against a weak Australian team?
Charlie, England

Jeremy, without being too cynical, wasn't England's victory over Australia their token one-good-show-per-block-of-internationals? Time and again we see England show glimpses (France this year and last year) only for nothing to carry forward. Did you see enough to suggest that England will be competitive against New Zealand on 6 November?
Dylan, Australia

Charlie and Dylan, I really hope that England have turned the corner. The performance was good and players played for England as they play for their respective clubs, which is precisely the reason they've been selected in the first place. Youngs has to continue at nine because he has the energy the rest of the team can feed off and although Courtney Lawes is some way off the finished article, he will improve by the World Cup.

For me England haven't had it mentally but at the weekend they all proved they have what it takes and need to perform to that level consistently. Going on their last performance I would expect them to give New Zealand a good run for their money.

Hi Jeremy, I was incredibly impressed with England, particularly in the first half, and I think that, barring injury, we may have seen the end of Jonny Wilkinson starting at 10 for England. I am a fan of Shontayne Hape, but don't see him starting in a year's time - I can see someone like Dominic Waldouck starting at 12. What do you think? Also, what do you make of Martin Johnson's substitutions? Mike Tindall and Youngs going off didn't seem to make any sense.
Duncan Darroch-Thompson, UK

England's Jonny Wilkinson lines up a penalty against Australia
Wilinson came off the bench to kick a crucial penalty for England

Duncan, never count Jonny out, he has proved many times before he has what it takes and if his form improves next season, he will push Toby Flood.

I like Hape, but he needs to work on his game awareness - what to do and the right time to do it - and he could also do with a couple of extra yards of pace. Waldouck might be the answer, or Barkley, but I like the fact Martin Johnson has options, he just needs to make the right selection.

I didn't understand those substitutions, maybe Johnson knows something we don't!

Jeremy, Martin Johnson and his coaches have taken a huge amount of negative criticism! Does the almost unprecedented victory in Australia vindicate them or do you believe that they made changes in personnel and tactics in response to their critics?
Steve Bailey, England

Steve, Johnson and his coaches take no notice of the criticism they receive - they have a plan and will stick to it no matter what. They will only be vindicated if England continue to develop and win.

Surely this is now the start of the end for Danny Care's international career? He has constantly taken an age to get the ball to his backs and from the moment Youngs came on in the first Test our backs looked like a unit transformed. Under Care, they had slow ball to work with and Johnson surely must realise now that a big (albeit by no means the only) problem with the performance of the backs was Care's distribution?
Zenon Szulc, England

Zenon, Danny Care is talented, he just hasn't managed to understand what the England backs want and has too often thought about himself rather than the requirements of his team-mates. We haven't seen the last of Care. He has the talent, he just needs to re-think his game awareness.

I would be interested in your views on Courtney Lawes. To me he adds real dynamism and go-forward to the England team. As Morgan Parra can confirm, he also adds assertive defence to the team.
Nick Hindmarsh, UK

Nick, there's no doubt that Lawes is athletic, mobile and physical and he's only going to get better. Was he better than Nathan Sharpe on Saturday? Is he better than Victor Matfield? That's how he will be measured, but he has real potential to be world class.

Hi Jeremy, do you believe Flood is the correct number 10 to take England into the World Cup? The same question could be raised for Ireland's Ronan O'Gara and Scotland's Dan Parks. After witnessing the performances of Dan Carter and Quade Cooper in recent weeks, the first three named look rather impotent.
Jack, Singapore

New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter ran Wales ragged
Dan Carter was in a class of his own against Wales

Jack, Carter is the world's best fly-half and right now is in a class of his own, he's the complete package. Cooper played so well in the first Test and although he didn't back it up this week, he has some wicked skills. Flood has the advantage over Wilkinson in that he can play very flat and bring the backs more into play than Jonny does.

My only doubt about Flood is his defence and ability to concentrate for the whole 80 minutes. I don't think the Wallabies would have scored their second try on Saturday if Flood had followed the ball. Once the attack went outside him, he switched off!

Despite that, at the moment I believe Flood deserves to be England's first choice 10. O'Gara has competition from Sexton for the Ireland shirt and Parks is playing well for Scotland.

Jerry, England hooker Steve Thompson should be given more credit for what he does. He set the tone and performed heroically on Saturday. He was right in the Aussies' face from the word go. England will need that sort of bravery for the World Cup but do you think Steve will make it that far?
David Holmans, UK

David, Thompson has done incredibly well to get where he is right now and had a great game - it was somewhere near the Thompson of old. I would say he could do with losing a few pounds and if he does that he will be world-class again. He will have a tough season with Leeds in the Premiership and that will be crucial in making sure he turns up ready for the World Cup.

Hi Jeremy, Scotland look to have taken a great leap forward since Andy Robinson has taken control, but still lack a cutting edge in the back line. Apart from finding prodigious new talent, how can the Scots move forward and develop a three-quarter line to match the best?
Shaun Ward, USA

Scotland coach Andy Robinson
Robinson led Scotland to their first ever southern hemisphere series win

Shaun, unfortunately for Scotland there's not a huge playing pool for Andy Robinson to pluck a massively creative Scottish backline from. What will happen though is Scotland will continue to improve all round and that includes the backs being smart, running good lines to beat defences, and working out moves that lead to scores.

I wouldn't say England have the most creative backline in the world but they showed us on Saturday that with quick ball anything is possible….Scotland can do the same.

Can you tell us all why you think Warren Gatland likes to taunt whoever Wales play in his pre-match interviews? It just gives the opposition an extra reason to want to win and against New Zealand you need all the help you can get!
Jon, Wales

Jon, I really don't think it's about what Warren Gatland says in a pre-match interview, although admittedly he has said a few things in the week leading up to a game that some teams can feed off. On this occasion, Wales were just outplayed in the second half by a fitter, quicker and smarter team.

Hello again Jeremy, do you believe now is the time for Dan Biggar to take the Wales number 10 shirt off of Stephen Jones following his poor performances against both South Africa and New Zealand? Also, who would you select as your back row if you were in charge of Wales?
Bam Bollard, Wales

Bam, hello again... Dan Biggar, for me, has yet to prove with Ospreys that he is that much better than Stephen Jones. He will probably take over from Jones at some stage if Hook doesn't want to play at 10.

Quite simply, has there ever been a better player than Dan Carter? Matthew, Wales

Matthew, there is little doubt that DC is an amazing talent and his performance against Wales only enhanced his position as the number one fly-half in the world. Is he the best player ever? Only time will tell!

Who do you think is better: Shane Williams or Jason Robinson? Please don't cop out and say they're both great!
Luke Ryan, Wales

Luke, I don't think I've been asked a harder question since we started this Q&A, nice one! By the smallest of margins I'm going for Robinson.



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see also
Johnson hails 'special' victory
19 Jun 10 |  English
Australia 20-21 England
19 Jun 10 |  English
International rugby union as it happened
19 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union
Robinson praises battling Scots
21 Jun 10 |  Scottish
Argentina 9-13 Scotland
19 Jun 10 |  Scottish
Argentina v Scotland as it happened
19 Jun 10 |  Scottish
Biggar takes Wales fly-half reins
24 Jun 10 |  Welsh
Gatland takes positives from loss
19 Jun 10 |  Welsh
New Zealand 42-9 Wales
19 Jun 10 |  Welsh
New Zealand Maori 31-28 Ireland
18 Jun 10 |  Irish
Springboks ease to win over Italy
19 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union
Jeremy Guscott Q&A
01 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union


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