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Jeremy Guscott Q&A

Jeremy Guscott
BBC pundit Guscott is on hand to answer your questions throughout the season

Former Bath, England and Lions centre Jeremy Guscott is back to answer your questions as domestic action eases us into the new year.

Among the topics Jerry discuss this week are:

- Who will win the game's major prizes this year

- Whether Northampton's season is about to start falling apart

- If 19-year-old Manu Tuilagi is an England player in the making

- Who he thinks is the best player never to win an England cap

- Which of his many international tries is his personal favourite

If you have any questions for Jerry, please use the postform on this page. He will answer as many as possible next week, but unfortunately not every question submitted can be used. This week's answers appear below.

Hey Jez, now it's the new year, I was wondering what your predictions were for the rest of 2011? This includes the Six Nations, Tri-Nations and the World Cup? One team answers please! No sitting on the fence.
Jimmy McCullough, Australia

Hi Jimmy, no sitting on the fence… England, New Zealand and New Zealand. In addition I think Northampton will win the Premiership, Munster will take the Magners League, Toulouse will retain the Heineken Cup and Crusaders will secure the Super 15.

Hi Jeremy, as a latecomer to rugby, I learnt to love the game whilst watching a player as enthralling as Shane Williams light up the stage. But as he is coming to the end of his international career, who do you think is currently the most exciting player in the world? Or who would you suggest keeping an eye on?
Josh Davies, Wales

Hi Josh, in terms of excitement Quade Cooper is the player for me, all through the Super 14 he was sublime. Because of his unpredictability he will always be the player to watch. After the autumn internationals a real star was unearthed in Hosea Gear, real class act. In terms of potential turning into real class look out for Sonny Bill Williams playing for the Crusaders. The exciting youngster in the Premiership would be Manu Tuilagi, although I'm not sure how much game time Leicester boss Richard Cockerill will give him this season.

Northampton - top of the table even with two games in hand, unbeaten at home for a very long time, beaten only once this season - and beaten by Harlequins, their first away win for ages and only the second time they've won at Franklins Gardens. What happened? Were Saints complacent and overconfident, or rusty after the enforced rest because of cancelled games?
John Myhill, England

Jeremy, Saints lost this week, but that had to happen at some stage.... do you think it is better that they lost to Harlequins and have now been brought back down to reality, realising you cannot win every game, and be better for it?
Charlie Winton, Scotland

Hi Charlie and John, I'm sure it's just a blip for Northampton and they would rather lose now than in an important game in the play-offs. To realise that if you don't play at your best you are beatable is a great lesson to learn at this stage in the season.

Jerry - London Irish have sunk to nine losses on the bounce. If this was the Premier League in football, Exiles boss Toby Booth would have been sacked by now. If you owned Irish what would you be doing to stop the rot?
Rugbai, England

Jeremy, what do you think: should London Irish sack Booth after this terrible run of results? It's a repeat of last season only the poor form has started earlier and been more extreme so he clearly isn't taking Irish forwards at the moment. Your thoughts?
Will, UK

Hi Will and Rugbai, certainly if this was happening in the football world the fans would be calling for his sacking and Booth would be a tad worried to say the least. It was a bold selection to have Clarke Dermody as club captain, he's rarely an 80 minute player and it's difficult to see his leadership qualities. Booth is correct in saying their discipline has let them down. The coach needs his best players to play out of their skins (he needs to pick them as well) and Irish will be back to their best.

Hi Jez, two points. Firstly, do you think there should be a minimum time players should have between games? The Ospreys played two games in four days over the Xmas/new year period and that means players such as Adam Jones scrummaged for almost two full games and Alun Wyn Jones put in countless tackles and ball carries. Would a gap in games help with player welfare?

Finally, it really bugs me that referees are wearing white boots! Surely they should be blending into the background!!!
Jono, UK

Hi Jono, games have to be played as they are scheduled, when bad weather effects this and games jam up there are going to be weeks when teams have to double up. Squads are big enough to accommodate rotation of players, it's not ideal but situations and circumstance force your hand. As for your second point, let's be fair, some refs really do fancy themselves so wearing white boots doesn't really surprise me!

Hey Jeremy, your weekly predictions for Wasps seem to often bemoan their inconsistency and cite that as your reason for predicting they will lose matches. After a run of six wins from the last seven (barring a disappointing match all round against Sarries) and pushing into the top four of the Premiership this week, do you think they are finding this consistency? To me they look well set to challenge for the Premiership and their Heineken Cup pool! Thanks
Jack, London

Hi Jack, I have to agree that Wasps are on a very good run of results right now and well deserved. I generally enjoy watching them play but they haven't been as consistent in the Premiership as boss Tony Hanks would like. Wasps only have two losing bonus points and no try scoring bonus points, if they continue in that vein they are unlikely to remain in the top four.

Hi Jeremy, with the rising star Manu Tuilagi performing well for the Tigers should England follow Australia in throwing young talent into the Test squad? In my opinion, he is the in-form English centre and with questions around the ageing Mike Tindall, and a somewhat static English midfield, should he be given a chance in the Six Nations to prepare him for the World Cup?
James Brooks, England

Is Tuilagi to be the future of the English midfield or will he get picked too early and end up like discarded Gloucester winger Lesley Vainikolo?
Douglas Turner, England

Hi James and Doug, Tuilagi has very little experience of first-class rugby but in the little he's played he hasn't looked out of place. I would put him in the England squad now, I'm sure the better players he plays and trains with, the quicker he will develop. He's another youngster with a lot of raw and as yet untapped talent. He's out of the same drawer as Ben Foden, Courtney Lawes and Ben Youngs - they have no baggage, they just want to play rugby.

Hi Jerry, with Tom Croft out of the Six Nations, who would you play at blind-side flanker for England? Would you move Lewis Moody there to accommodate Hendre Fourie? Or even bring in James Haskell, Chris Robshaw or Phil Dowson?
Tom Spence, Bath, England.

Hi Tom, Croft's line-out contribution will be the hardest to replace and England will lose options there as a consequence. I wouldn't put Moody at six, he's more suited to seven. Fourie is an open-side who is also not suited to six. Robshaw just seems a little dopey to me when he plays, not sharp enough, and although Dowson could do a really good job I'm not convinced Johnson is a fan. Dowson's Northampton team-mate Tom Wood is also an option - at 6ft 4in he could have the line-out presence to replace Croft. I would pick Dowson but I believe Johnson will pick Robshaw.

Hi Jeremy, I would just like to know your thoughts on Sale after beating Sarries on Sunday. I'm not sure if you watched it, but there were a lot of positives to take from it for Sale - they also just look like a new team! Thanks
Harry, Manchester, England

Hi Harry, I've watched the highlights and it was certainly a great first half for Sale but by the end it looked as though they were happy to hear the final whistle. Sale have the personnel to do reasonably well, but new boss Pete Anglesea has to work out what makes them tick.

Do you feel it is about time Warren Gatland gave Dwayne Peel another shot for Wales at scrum-half? I am getting frustrated at watching Mike Phillips looking for contact and believe Peel is on top form for Sale and would bring much needed dynamism to our backline.
Owen Griffiths, Wales

Hi Owen, Phillips sometimes plays likes a brainless man, he appears angry for some reason I can't fathom because at his best he is quality. Richie Rees has played reasonably well but took a step backwards against Fiji. If Gatland picked Peel it would open a big can of worms because he's indicated to players that if you leave Wales you risk not being selected (which will be interesting when it comes to James Hook next season). I can see Peel being selected to go to the World Cup but not featuring in the Six Nations unless there are injuries.

Why do you think Edinburgh are so inconsistent when they have so many internationals? Is there one thing you can pinpoint that would turn the team around?
Ross Quinn, Scotland

Hi Ross, there isn't one area I could pinpoint that would explain Edinburgh's inconsistent form. In the Magners League they've played 12, won six, lost six, and are in seventh position. Personally I wouldn't expect much more from a team of this quality.

Hi Jeremy, was just wondering who you think the best player never to be capped by England is?
Ben Gandy, England

Hi Ben, a while back now a guy called Roger Spurrell played and captained Bath. How he never got capped I'll never know, it was almost criminal.

Mr Guscott, I am the captain of a small rugby team playing in the Essex leagues, and our main issue is retaining high quality youth players, who are being attracted to other local clubs with higher funding and better facilities. In your experience, what would you say is the main thing that we can do, to attempt to keep these players on our books, whilst we aim to rise up the leagues? Obviously not a players' question, but I'm sure with your experience of the game, you may be able to provide me with some ideas or advice. Best Regards.
Matt Terrett, UK

Hi Matt, this is a really hard one to answer. I don't blame any youngster, or any player for that matter, leaving a club for more money and better facilities. What generally keeps a player at a club is success or a culture of loyalty. If you create either of those you will keep players.

Of all the silky tries you scored, which was the most satisfying (none against Scotland, please!)?
Alan, France

Hi Alan, scoring against Australia in 1989 for the Lions in Brisbane during the second Test gave me a lot of satisfaction.

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see also
Exeter 15-22 Leicester
02 Jan 11 |  English
Sale 28-22 Saracens
02 Jan 11 |  English
Wasps 33-16 Newcastle
02 Jan 11 |  English
Munster 35-10 Ulster
01 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
Northampton 13-16 Harlequins
01 Jan 11 |  English
Leeds 15-13 Gloucester
01 Jan 11 |  English
London Irish 24-25 Bath
01 Jan 11 |  English
Leinster 30-8 Connacht
01 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
Scarlets 21-15 Dragons
01 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Cardiff Blues 27-25 Ospreys
31 Dec 10 |  Welsh

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