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Jeremy Guscott Q&A

Jeremy Guscott
BBC pundit Guscott is on hand to tackle your queries throughout the season

Former Bath, England and Lions centre Jeremy Guscott is back to answer your questions.

Among the topics Jerry considers this week are:

- How Wales will cope without injured prop Gethin Jenkins

- Possible reasons for Charlie Hodgson's move from Sale to Saracens

- How Munster and the Ospreys will fare against Jonny Wilkinson's Toulon in their upcoming Heineken Cup matches

- Whether Gloucester winger James Simpson-Daniel can force his way into the England squad

- The chances of Gavin Henson making the Wales team for the Six Nations

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.


Hi Jerry, Wales loose-head Gethin Jenkins looks set to miss the Six Nations after having a toe operation. How big a blow is that for Welsh boss Warren Gatland?
Peter, Wales

Gethin Jenkins on the charge for Wales against Argentina
Jenkins will have an operation on his toe on Wednesday

Hi Peter, Gethin Jenkins is arguably the best loose-head prop in the world and Wales were set to dominate all but France, possibly, at scrum time, so it's a massive blow. His work around the field, particularly his tackle count, will be difficult for Gatland to replace.

Hi Jez, I was quite surprised to see that Charlie Hodgson is leaving Sale after this season to join Saracens, what's your take on his decision? Do you think it is the best place for him to go to? Cheers.
James, England

Hi James, Charlie feels he's made the best decision for himself, his future rugby career and his family. I think it's a brave decision late on in his career, because he could be comfortable at Sharks calling the shots and being a senior pro there. I think it shows he's up for more challenges and feels his chances of silverware are better with Sarries than at Sale. A player of Charlie's skill probably has up to four more years playing at the top. Maybe he's looking further to the future and life after rugby in the London area?

Hi Jerry, it looks like with Leicester's victory over Northampton we are now seeing the champions doing their regular second-half-of-the-season sprint to the title. This has been a recurring theme over the past few seasons. What do you think it is about Leicester that makes them a class ahead of the rest of the Premiership?
Baz, England

Hi Baz, Tigers have their own rugby identity and it's inherent in the club. They have been, in general, very astute at selecting the right coaches and players to fit with the Tigers culture. Every Premiership club is striving to find and build their own identity and turn it into what the Tigers have. Everyone at the club works hard, are very honest and no-one is bigger than the club, there are very few inflated egos.

Dear Jeremy, in the Tigers v Saints match, which Leicester won 27-16, I was thinking about the difference in half-backs in both teams - Ben Youngs and Toby Flood and Ryan Powell and Stephen Myler - and how it showed more in the second half? What is your view on their respective merits?
David Burke, England

Hi David, without doubt Youngs and Flood have a great partnership with Flood playing the senior role. Youngs' natural ability to make the right decision at the right time is complemented by Flood's leadership in controlling the game. Flood has the blueprint of the Tigers game plan embedded in his mind and is very good at executing that plan. At Saints, with two sets of half-backs and neither dominant enough to regularly be the first picks it's difficult to get consistency. At their very best the Saints half-backs aren't as good as the Tigers pair are at their best.

Hi, after Harlequins' wins over Irish, Northampton and Wasps, do you feel that they are a team to look out for, for both Heineken Cup next year as well as the play-offs for the title?? Many thanks, Ed (Quins fan)
Ed Crowe, Reading, UK

Hi Jerry. As a Quins supporter I have been ecstatic to see our recent run of form and believe we are currently fulfilling the potential we have been threatening to show since the start of the season. I was wondering how you think we will fare in the second half of the season and if you are as optimistic as I am for a top-four finish.
Fred, UK`

Hi Ed and James, you are right to be optimistic about Quins given their recent run of games. Make no mistake though, Saints and Tigers proved in their game over the weekend they are a step up from the rest in the Premiership at this moment in time. I can't see many teams, if any, getting to the Premiership final if they have to play Saints or Tigers away from home. Quins have a great chance of making the top four but they will have to battle it out with Irish, Saracens, Gloucester, Wasps and Bath. All the teams below Saints and Tigers, down to Bath, are at a similar level.

Hi Jezza, how much do you think England would be affected if Courtney Lawes and Chris Ashton are unavailable for the Six Nations? And who do you think could fill their boots?
Matt, Scotland

Hi Matt, I think it's a bit premature at this time to think Lawes and Ashton won't make the opening Six Nations game. These two players have made their positions their own after their performances in the autumn. If they didn't make it then the likes of Simon Shaw would replace Lawes in the second row and Ugo Monye, Delon Armitage or David Strettle would be in line to replace Ashton on the wing.

Hi Jeremy. After James Simpson-Daniel's (JSD) classy performance against Exeter for Gloucester, surely he should be considered an option as England's outside centre for the Six Nations? I've lost count of how many times he's played well, week in week out. What's you're view on him?
Will, England

James Simpson-Daniel in action against Exeter
Gloucester star Simpson-Daniel has been unlucky with his England career

Any hope for JSD at Gloucester getting a run in the next Six Nations, or will he always be the one who never really made it?
Ian Morgan, England

Hi Will and Ian, JSD has in many ways been unlucky when it comes to playing rugby for England and has won only 10 caps. If it isn't an injury getting in the way then it's a head coach who feels he doesn't fit into their game plan. I think JSD is an exceptional player who has always asked questions of defences.

He can create space for other players as well as finish moves off himself. A lot of international coaches prefer larger centres who can put in heavy tackles and bulldozer their way over the gain line. For JSD to play outside centre he would need an inside centre like Will Greenwood who could himself attract defenders to allow Sinbad the space he likes. I think he is more likely to be selected on the wing than at centre.

With Wales once again short of scrum-halves, is one option playing a fly-half in the position? Wales have plenty of high quality players playing 10. If the South Africans and French can do it why can't a Home Nations team?
Diarmuid, England

Hi Diarmuid, with the French and South Africans it's more a case of a scrum-half being able to play 10, rather than the other way round. I don't know many, if any, out and out 10's that could play nine at international level and do a good job.

Hi Jeremy, what's your opinion on Gavin Henson's potential involvement in the Six Nations this year? A lot of articles are saying that he shouldn't get a look in, but surely a man with his class could add much needed strength in depth to an injury ridden set of backs?
Chris, Wales

Hey Jerry, just wondering why people think Henson deserves a place in the Wales squad just because he's back playing? The game is very demanding and personally, with all the time out, I think he doesn't deserve a Wales call-up until after the World Cup and it is unfair if he gets called up just because he's Gavin Henson. What is your expert opinion on this?
Steffan Rogers, UK

Do you believe Henson should play the Six Nations? I think he hasn't performed well enough yet.
Fernando Foresto, Argentina

Hi Chris, Steffan and Fernando, quite simply Gavin Henson will be selected if he plays incredibly well and out-performs incumbents and squad players. I can't see Jamie Roberts playing outside centre for Wales and so Henson, who prefers inside centre, will have to adapt to playing outside centre, which he says himself he finds a tad uncomfortable.

With his ability he needs to understand he can comfortably play there. Competition at outside centre for Wales doesn't get any easier with an in-form Jonathan Davies looking very lively. Henson also has to prove he's better value than Tom Shanklin and Andrew Bishop.

Hi Jeremy, I'm a French fan from Lille. Looking at the Munster and Ospreys clashes v Toulon in the Heineken Cup over the next couple of weeks, how do you rate each team's chances and who do you think will win Pool Three?
Thanks, Michael.
Michael, France

Hi Jerry, do you think Munster will beat Toulon over in France?
Frank, Ireland

Hi Michael and Frank, Munster have gained a reputation of winning difficult Heineken Cup games away from home and nothing has changed in that department. All three teams have one away and one home game left and Pool Three is finely balanced but Toulon are in the box seat with the most points. I can't see Toulon beating both Munster and Ospreys.

A lot depends on what kind of side bottom team London Irish put out to play Ospreys and Munster because they are out of qualifying and have nothing to gain. I think at this stage it's too close to call but if pushed I will say Munster to beat Toulon and then beat Ospreys at home to qualify top of the group.

Hi Jeremy, at this moment in time, who in your opinion is the most exciting outside centre in northern hemisphere rugby?
Brian Keys, United Kingdom

Mathieu Bastareaud in action for club side Stade Francais
Bastareaud weighs over 18st and can leave a trail of destruction in his wake

Hi Brian, this is an interesting question as it's about who is the most exciting, not necessarily the best. I guess the choice must be between centres playing international rugby in that position - Brian O'Driscoll, Mike Tindall, Mathieu Bastareaud, James Hook and Jo Ansbro.

I think Bastareaud is the most exciting in terms of what to expect, is he just going to bludgeon down the middle and smash players out of the way or will he make an outside break and fend tacklers off? Certainly every time the heavyweight French centre gets the ball people expect some kind of devastation. He also has the ability to off-load out of the tackle, which is difficult to defend against. However, the most complete outside centre in this group is still Ireland captain O'Driscoll.

Jerry, any thoughts on switching the Quins/Wasp game to Abu Dhabi? Is it a money-making exercise or an effort to grow the game? Precedents have obviously been set with the Bledisloe Cup and certain Heineken Cup games, but this is new territory.
Peter Bittner, USA

Hi Peter, the sport has to continually look for new opportunities to showcase our great game and why not the Middle East? I'm for it, as long as it's not to the detriment of loyal supporters, and from feedback I'm sure Wasps and Quins have a good idea of what fans think.

As for making money I can't see that happening unless the sponsors are paying for the privilege or Wasps are doing it as a loss leader. A few sports look outside their traditional areas. Gridiron have a game in London during their season and the European golf tour is expanding pretty much all over the world. I would be happier if both teams were fielding full-strength sides.

Hi Jeremy, I'm sat watching England v Scotland from the Five Nations in 1990. The game looks a lot different then than it does now, what do you think has been the most positive and negative changes to the game since you played?
Simon Gaskell, England

Hi Simon, the biggest positive has to be that the game at the top end is now professional and the biggest negative is that skill is being squeezed out of the players. Modern-day players are without doubt fitter and stronger but we haven't seen the same increase in their skill levels.

There are a lot of players who can bench press or squat a lot of weight but ask them to score from a three on two or four on three and many struggle - many of them struggle with the concept of space and how to develop or make the most it. In short it is a negative that there are a lot of robotic players, particularly in the northern hemisphere, and not enough free-thinking naturals who play what is in front of them.



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see also
Wales suffer Jenkins injury blow
10 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Sale's Hodgson to join Saracens
10 Jan 11 |  Saracens
Saracens 12-6 London Irish
09 Jan 11 |  English
Leicester 27-16 Northampton
08 Jan 11 |  English
Harlequins 17-10 Wasps
08 Jan 11 |  English
Six Nations doubts for Morrison
08 Jan 11 |  Glasgow
Bath 16-13 Leeds
08 Jan 11 |  English
Gloucester 37-23 Exeter
08 Jan 11 |  English
Munster 22-20 Glasgow
08 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
Edinburgh 16-21 Scarlets
08 Jan 11 |  Scottish
Gatland in Henson Wales warning
07 Jan 11 |  Welsh


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