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Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Tuesday, 22 February 2011

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 discussed by Jerry this week are:

- Lewis Moody and England's options in the back row

- Saturday's Six Nations clash between England and France

- Scotland's prospects after two Six Nations defeats

- The hopes of Cardiff Blues and Northampton Saints


Can Lewis Moody really be considered ready for a match against France with such limited game time? If Martin Johnson does go for him, what message does that send to the existing back-row forwards who have performed so well?
Richard Cosker, UK

Hi, Richard. You have a point and I'm sure MJ will be thinking along those lines. Moody has remained with the squad throughout the Six Nations campaign and the England medical team will know if he is up for 80 minutes of international rugby. If he is fit, I am pretty sure he will be part of the match-day 22. Since being made captain, Moody has played and led very well. His speed will certainly be an advantage at openside flanker against France. If he is picked for the starting XV, I don't think it sends out the wrong message because he is a better player than James Haskell at No7.

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Hi, Jerry. Watching the first couple of rounds of the Six Nations, the quality of the No8s struck me most. Who would you say is the pick of the bunch?
Chris Godderidge, UK

Hi, Chris. I would agree with you. Italy's Sergio Parisse is incredibly good in an average team, managing to shine and get noticed through his ability with and without the ball. France's Imanol Harinordoquy just sneaks it for me as my pick of the bunch because of his all-round ability. He is a go-to lineout man, great off the back of the scrum and can more than hold is own in defence. Running with the ball, he is like a back, plus he is quick. As you say, though, all No8s are playing very well for their respective countries.

England have an abundance of talent for the back-row positions. Who do you feel the strongest starting three are?
Marcus Illingworth, England

Hi, Marcus. When everyone is fit, I would pick Tom Croft, Nick Easter and Moody. If Haskell could play consistently well, as he did against Italy, he would put more pressure on Easter. Tom Wood will feature on a more regular basis after the World Cup later this year.

Out of every team in the Six Nations, what would be your 'dream' half-back partnership?
Luke Turner, England

Hi, Luke. Ben Youngs and Toby Flood have caught the eye without doubt, particularly Flood with his game management and goal kicking. Youngs, for such a young player, is a consistent performer.

Surely England should be giving Leicester centre Anthony Allen another shot. Why is it that Martin Johnson won't give such a great talent another shot on the big stage?
Josh Robinson, England

Hi, Josh. I agree that Allen has had a good season to date. MJ is happy with his centre partnership and just does not see Allen fitting his requirements yet. If AA continues to perform, there is no reason why he will not make England's World Cup squad.

Where will the game be won and lost for England against France at Twickenham on Saturday?
Mark, England

Hi, Mark. All games are generally won by the team that has the edge up front in the scrums, lineout and breakdown. Both teams are evenly matched in all those areas. England have the edge in confidence. They have played a very controlled game and have not looked unsteady in any phase. France relied on Ireland's indiscipline to get ahead and stay in front but I do not see England giving the French as many opportunities. Plus, Ireland managed to score three tries and I expect England to do the same.

Former New Zealand hooker Sean Fitzpatrick has claimed England's bid to win the World Cup this year has started too late. What's your view on the chances of the Six Nations winners at the World Cup, be it England or another team?
Carl, England

Hi, Carl. The winners of the Six Nations will go into Rugby World Cup with great confidence whoever they are. Believe me, if England continue in this form they will be a threat to any team but they still have a lot to prove after doing so well against Australia and then not turning up against South Africa in the autumn internationals. The game against France is the ideal opportunity to show the rugby world that they are on course. If they lose, then Fitzpatrick has a point.

How will Scotland respond to what I can only describe as an insipid and lacklustre performance against Wales?
Daniel, Scotland

Hi, Daniel. Scotland have been hit hard by injuries and there will be uncertainty amongst the squad. Andy Robinson has a tough choice to make at 10 and it will be interesting to see if he gives Dan Parks one last chance. Robinson has to inspire his squad to believe they can put in a good performance but it is not going to be easy. Thankfully, the game against Ireland is at home so the team have an immediate opportunity to repay their fans with a top performance.

How well do you think Cardiff Blues have handled the Magners League without their Six Nations stars and can you see them winning the League?
Adam Perry, Wales

Hi, Adam. The Blues have handled the loss of their internationals reasonably well and are sitting comfortably in the top four. I think it is far too early to predict if they will win but life will be easier if they can secure a home semi-final.

I appreciate the loss of Courtney Lawes, Ben Foden and Chris Ashton to injury and international duty would hurt most teams but for Northampton to lose 38-8 at Bath seems to show that they are coming off the rails a bit. Can you see them turning it around before the later stages of the Heineken Cup?
Luke, England

Hi, Luke. Saints have struggled when I thought they wouldn't and now director of rugby Jim Mallinder and assistant Dorian West will have to earn their corn to get Saints through the next few matches without their stars. Saints are in fourth place with two games in hand on Leicester Tigers and Saracens so they will need to start winning with bonus points to make up some ground. The Heineken Cup quarter-final against Ulster is a good few weeks away and Saints should have a full compliment of players to select from. In my opinion, Saints at full strength can beat anyone on their day.

Hi, Jerry. Just wondered what your thoughts were on the upcoming battle between Mike Tindall and Aurelien Rougerie? It seems to me like Marc Lievremont has moved him there in order to target Tindall's lack of pace. How would you be telling England to defend that 13 channel?
Dan, England

Hi, Dan. Every side playing England should attack Tindall's channell but I don't think the French will. They are too macho and will want to have a go at England's forwards. Defending that channel should not be difficult with 10, 12, 13, 14/11 coming up together on a soft blitz, forcing France back inside. What you do not want to see is Tindall isolated ahead or behind that line. If that happens, it spells trouble.

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.

You can follow Jerry on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JeremyGuscott




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see also
Highlights - England women start with win
07 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Moody tipped for England comeback
19 Feb 11 |  English
Leicester 21-12 Wasps
19 Feb 11 |  English
Blues 11-3 Leinster
19 Feb 11 |  Cardiff Blues
Hanks leaves role as Wasps chief
17 Feb 11 |  London Wasps
Leeds part company with boss Key
17 Feb 11 |  Leeds
Ashton defends try celebrations
17 Feb 11 |  English


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