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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 is back to answer your questions.

Following the second round of autumn internationals, Jerry discusses:

England's scintillating display as they demolished Australia at Twickenham, and whether Martin Johnson's men can build on their performance.

- Scotland's annihilation by the All Blacks at Murrayfield as New Zealand chase a Grand Slam of autumn tour wins.

- Wales's brave showing in their defeat by South Africa, and whether Warren Gatland's team should really have beaten the world champions.

- Ireland's scrappy form in their laboured win over Samoa, with the All Blacks next up in Dublin.

Jerry, would you say that is one of the best performances EVER by an England side? I can't remember many better and I think a lot of people would definitely say we didn't play as well as that when we won the World Cup! Simon Priestley, England

Mark Cueto

Highlights - England 35-18 Australia

Hi Simon, it was a magnificent performance by England. Personally I couldn't say it was the best ever, but it would certainly make my top 10. The 2003 RWC final performance will always rank highest for me because of the expectation, pressure of being favourites and doing the job, plus the fact the ref got it wrong at scrum time.

What a performance from England on Saturday, it made a very good Aussie side look pretty ordinary. What do you think has been the main contributing factor to the change we have seen with England recently? Do you think that this is also sustainable to next year's World Cup and beyond? Jason, England

Why don't England always play like that? Freddie Light, England

Hi Jason and Freddie; I believe the contributing factors are that the new lads and young guys in the team don't have any baggage. They haven't got any bad memories of playing for England putting in the poor performances. The club teams they play for are good, they have confidence in their own ability and they are actually bringing their club form to the party. You get the sense now that England can perform regularly to that level providing the energising players like Youngs, Lawes, Ashton, Foden and Croft are part of the team.

Hi Jeremy, just wondering what your thoughts were on the Scotland v New Zealand game? Were New Zealand really that good or were Scotland just very poor? Adam, UK

Hi Adam, I was surprised Scotland played so poorly given their 2009 Six Nations form, plus their victories in Argentina. Scotland didn't play well at all; it looked to me as though they were a bit in awe of the Kiwis and showed them a little too much respect. You really have to believe you can beat them, play your best game and maybe they don't play as well. Conceding seven tries is never good news but Scotland contributed to five of them because they had the ball and lost it!

Being Welsh, should I think we were beaten by a better side on Saturday or should I be aggrieved over the ref's questionable decisions for losing the game? Ben Dickinson, Wales

Hi Ben, blaming the ref is lame. Please be bigger than that and accept Wales let it slip. Wales were the better team in the first half by a good margin, 17-9. I couldn't believe the change in the Boks forwards at the start of the second half, they were a team totally transformed. The Boks just blew Wales away with some hard-nosed direct running, literally smashing Welsh players out of the way.

I'm a hugely frustrated Welshman who has yet again seen a Test match slip through our fingers through what would appear to be a lack of a winning mentality. Regardless of the improvement in the South Africans in the second half, the game should have been put to bed. Where do you think Wales go from here? The rugby is fine, the squad is settled, but there seems to be a collective lack of inner-belief. David Lawton, Wales

Hi David, I have been saying for quite some time that some Welsh players have a faulty mental connection somewhere because I've seen them play some great rugby in 2005 and 2008 but consistency eludes them. I look at the Welsh team and see winners of Grand Slams and Magners Leagues. Why can't they be more consistent, why can't they close out a game? Last season they took an age getting into games, conceding points, making it really difficult to come back and win. I have no doubt they have the physical talent but at present they lack a mental toughness.

Jeremy, after another inept performance by Ireland on Saturday, should we worry? The players lacked direction on the pitch. Coach Declan Kidney is a man who usually lets the players take matters into their own hands. How are we going to deal with the Kiwis? Conor Philpott, Ireland

Hi Conor, I won't beat around the bush with this answer. Quite clearly if Ireland play as poorly against the All Blacks as they have done against South Africa and Samoa, they will get hammered. I would like to think with the quality of player Ireland have, they will find some conscience and drag a performance out of themselves that they know they are capable of producing.

Have you seen a better try than Chris Ashton's? Is it better than the Philippe Saint-Andre try - which you nearly prevented! - for France and which followed a similar path up the pitch?BBC Sport

Phillipe Saint Andre

Watch Saint-Andre's 1991 classic against England

Ashton's try was more an individual success. OK, he was put in that position by a turnover and good hands from Youngs and Lawes, but he more than finished it. Ashton showed great belief in his speed to take on Drew Mitchell and skin him, a great moment for him that he will never forget. Saint-Andre's try was more of a team effort with good hands, a chip-and-gather and cross-kick all moments that could have gone wrong, but because of good execution they worked. I was never going to stop that try!!

Hi Jeremy, after a scintillating weekend at Twickenham, which of England's players would you rate as being world class or having the potential to be? Cheers
Alex, England

Hi Alex, I couldn't say any of the England players are world class at the moment because they have been part of a poor side for the best part of four years. Some players have the potential without doubt. Early in their careers, Ben Youngs and Courtney Lawes are showing the signs, their consistency in performance is at a very high level that sets them apart. Ashton and Ben Foden are also producing performances, along with Dan Cole. If England continue in their current vein of form, more and more players in the team will be brought up to these guys' levels.

How much do you credit Martin Johnson for England's magnificent win against Australia? Stephen, UK

Hi Stephen, you have to give MJ some credit he picks the team, which he finally seems to be getting right. It took him too long to pick the young ones in my opinion but he would disagree with me, saying something like 'they needed that time to be the players they are now'. I would disagree, saying they would be even better now if the likes of Ashton, Foden, Youngs and Lawes were in the team 12 months ago!!

Hi JG, because of the brilliant England display against Australia, do you think MJ should stick with the same 15 to play against Samoa or start with the subs that were on the bench against the Wallabies, which would enable them to gain international experience and let MJ experiment a bit? Elliot, London

Hi Elliott, I would pick most of the bench in the starting line-up to give them a game and the opportunity to prove they should be starting. Some would say keep the same team because they are on a roll, but England's pack particularly need to be fresh to face the might of the Boks forwards.

Hi Jeremy, do you think Mike Tindall will be England's starting centre at next year's World Cup? If your answer is no, do you not think it is time to try someone different in order to give them Test experience in time for New Zealand?
Craig Martin, England

Hi Craig, I believe Tindall is going to be in the team up to and including the WC next year. He didn't play well against the ABs but did well against the Wallabies. He and Hape are just getting to know each other's game and need a bit more time to gel.

Mike Tindall - against Australia he played well enough! However, he is at the end of his career, so who in the Premiership is capable of being a world class centre to replace him? Also Mark Cueto too is at the end of his career, is David Strettle the man? Tyrone Matthews, England

Hi Tyrone, The centres for now and the future would be Jordan Turner-Hall, Jon Clarke, Brad Barritt and one to definitely look out for would be Manu Tuilagi at Leicester. Cueto, judging him on his last performance, will also make it to the RWC next year. I think we have some good wingers in waiting, of which Strettle is one.

Hi Jeremy, I'm really glad that England are back to being world beaters, I think they can now say that they can actually compete at next year's World Cup, although I still think that our boys will give them a tough time. Do you think they can do the impossible and beat the Boks on 27 November? John Dell, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Hi Jeremy, we follow your Q&A regularly here in SA, especially after your success with Kobus on SuperSport in RWC 2007. What are our chances against England in two weeks' time and does the influx of foreign players to your Premiership affect the England selection pool, should a cap be installed? Thank you. Alwyn, South Africa

Hi John and Alwyn, I would have to say on current form and with the game being played at Twickenham, England will be favourites to win. You can never under-estimate the Boks, they have put in some mighty performances in beating Ireland and coming back from the dead against Wales. They have been without several first-choice players but still managed to win. All this effort has to take its toll but I'm sure the adrenalin will be pumping when they face England and they will be desperate to win. I believe England will win and I'm happy to say that because I haven't been able to for a while!!

Hi Jeremy, what do you think of the noise at Twickenham when the opposing kickers are trying to kick? Despite admonishments from the announcer and the big screen it carries on, which I think is a shame as it doesn't happen at the Premiership matches I've been to. Simon, Northampton, England

Hi Simon, there's no place for it in my mind and it needs to stop. It's poor sportsmanship from fans and to say others do it is to be as bad as them. Lets get rid!!

Do you think the International Rugby Board's disciplinary process can have any credibility when Keven Mealamu only gets a fortnight off for head-butting someone? Ben, England

Hi Ben, It was an absolutely ridiculous decision to turn around the original decision to ban him for four weeks (I thought that was light). For me watching it, he did it on purpose with intent to hurt. Mitigation that he was provoked (not proven) is no reason to cut the ban. Total rubbish and a step backwards for the disciplinary panel.

Jeremy, how much longer will the southern hemisphere teams continue to play Scotland in Test matches? I was at the game at Murrayfield and Scotland were hardly competitive. Iain, England

Hi Iain, don't forget Scotland beat Australia last year and I think the performance against NZ wasn't expected, considering their previous three matches.

Hi Jeremy, what do you think of Scrum V passing the ball through Brian Moore's mouth and will you be having a go? James Mckay-Mount, UK

Hi James, It's a great game and I've found it very entertaining, especially Rupert Moon's attempt. I won't be having a go this season.

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see also
England 35-18 Australia
13 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Wales 25-29 South Africa
13 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Scotland 3-49 New Zealand
13 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 20-10 Samoa
13 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Moore takes the Moore mouth test
14 Nov 10 |  Welsh

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