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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 here to answer your questions as European rugby returns to centre stage.

Among the topics Jerry discusses this week are:

- Who he thinks will win the Heineken Cup quarter-finals

- Danny Cipriani's prospects of returning to the England fly-half jersey

- Scotland coach Andy Robinson's decision to rest players ahead of the World Cup

- The future of Mike Phillips at the Ospreys

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, simple question for you. It is Heineken Cup weekend coming up, what are you predictions for the four games and your predicted finalists?
Calum, UK, and many others

Hi Calum, I'm going for all home wins with Leinster to win the cup.

Hello Jeremy, Ulster are undoubtedly having one of their best seasons for some time but on Sunday they come up against a rampant Northampton. What must Ulster do to win and what effect will the match being played at stadium:mk have on the Saints home "advantage"?
Karl Campbell, Northern Ireland

Hi Karl, Ulster will go to the MK in good spirits knowing they have a good chance. Saints love to dominate and Ulster like a good scrap so it is set up nicely. If Saints attack a bit wider than through the guts of Ulster, they stand more of a chance of opening the game out a bit more than they tend to.

I watched the Ulster v Scarlets game and thought the ref was a bit harsh on the Scarlets but you create your own luck and Ulster won. Saints will be a tougher assignment and despite not playing at Franklin's Gardens, I still tip Saints to win.

Just when Bath seemed to be turning around their fortunes in the Premiership, they have slipped up once again and their prospects of reaching the top four are bleak. Jerry, what do you think is the reason behind their recent poor performances?
Chris Harris, England

Olly Barkley in action for Bath
Bath have missed centre Barkley since he broke his leg in March

Hi Chris, Bath are making silly little mistakes like they did at the beginning of the season. Bath's game is built on momentum and continuity and unforced errors stop them in their tracks. It can't be easy knowing your coach is leaving and yet he's still involved, plus the loss of Olly Barkley has hurt.

Players need to produce good solid performances. Anything below par at this stage of the season will be punished severely. Every match at this point has something on it, relegation, top four and Heineken Cup. Bath have got to find the hard mental edge that gets them back to winning ways.

Just one small question from me, who do you favour for the top-four play-off places in the Magners League?
Dan, Wales

Hi Dan, I can't see much past the current top four - Munster, Ulster, Ospreys and Leinster. Leinster play Ulster in a few weeks and Ospreys play Munster - those results might let in the Blues but that's unlikely.

With their internationals back, Saints are again looking strong. Would Leicester or Saracens be thinking that it may be beneficial to finish second; or is the fact Gloucester still have to play both the Tigers and Sarries going to make it difficult for them to hold on to third?
Steve, UK

Hi Steve, teams don't really think about the knock-out stages of a competition until they have arrived in it. Any team playing at home in this league would strongly fancy their chances against any other team. It looks pretty nailed on now that Tigers and Sarries will be at home and given a choice, yes, they would rather play Gloucester I suspect.

The game of rugby has changed over the years in the way it is played, the size of the players and laws. What changes can you foresee in the future?
Chris Edwards, England

Hi Chris, I really hope more club teams in the northern hemisphere look to attack more than concentrating on defence. It's not easy but I really do feel the teams that embrace an attacking philosophy will be the league leaders in the next few seasons. I still don't believe fitness levels are as high as they need to be to play in a more attacking way.

Hi Jeremy, what do you think about Mike Phillips possibly leaving Ospreys and who in the Premiership do you think could benefit from signing him?
Joshua Molina, England

Ospreys scrum-half Mike Phillips
There has been speculation that Phillips might leave the Ospreys

Hi Joshua, Mike Phillips is a very talented player at his best and in that kind of form any team would want to sign him, except those who already have very good scrum-halves. I'm as interested as everyone to see if he does leave Ospreys and where he might possibly go.

The salary cap in the Premiership probably prevents him from being wanted by the top teams. All the money is in France so I wouldn't be surprised if he headed off there.

Hi Jerry, what do you think of the decision by Scotland coach Andy Robinson to rest some key players before the Rugby World Cup? Do you think any players from the home nations could benefit from a similar rest?
Jonathan Fry, Wales

Hi Jonathan, Andy Robinson doesn't have a huge number of quality players to select from and so I think it's a smart move with the Rugby World Cup coming up soon.

As an ex-international centre of distinction how do you feel about Saracens centre Brad Barritt, who played the present England number 12 Shontayne Hape off the park at Vicarage Road on Sunday?
Simon, UK

Hi Simon, we won't know about Barritt on the international scene until he gets his chance. He would have done himself some good playing well against the current England 12 but he needs to impress manager Martin Johnson. Putting it simply, Barritt needs to score tries, smash players in the tackle and get over the gain line a lot.

He's pretty much got to find a run of form where he is challenging for man of the match every time he plays. If he did all that and then didn't get picked, then the England selectors could be accused of being blind.

Mr Guscott, what is going wrong at Wasps? After a really promising start against Irish their lack of discipline cost them. And now, with Dom Waldouck gone, that is another star player to add to their long line of injuries.

What is your view of the run of poor performances by London Wasps? On paper they look a decent team but this is one of the worst seasons I can remember. Their scrum is weak, they are leaking tries and the squad is so depleted that they had to turn to Josh Lewsey just to fill the bench.
Charlie, UK

I've come to terms with the fact that this season is over but what do Wasps need to do to rebuild for next season. Is getting a head coach their most important signing? Who would you like to see fill the position?
Nathan , England

Mark van Gisbergen is tackled by London Irish's Daniel Bowden
Wasps' defeat at London Irish on Sunday continued a poor run of form

Hi Charlie and Nathan, Wasps are going through a really tough period with injuries and results. They have to tough it out till the end of the season and start the rebuilding, if it hasn't started already behind the scenes. Wasps at full strength are a good match for most teams at home but I think they are in a similar position to quite a few Premiership sides that are unlikely to win the league anytime soon.

Wasps believe in what they are trying to achieve and it's being done probably below budget, which means it will take some time. It's sometimes difficult for supporters to take their team not playing well especially after having so much success a few seasons ago. The killer edge left Wasps when the likes of Lawrence Dallaglio and Fraser Walters left, that hard core hasn't been replaced or current players haven't stepped up.

What is your opinion on Harlequins prop Joe Marler? He has been great this season but will his temperament cost him a future place in the England squad?
Sam Harrison, England

Hi Sam, Marler has been impressive and I don't think what happened at the weekend, when he was sent-off for fighting with Leicester's Marcos Ayerza on Saturday, will duly effect the opinion that Martin Johnson has of him. He was wrong to retaliate but I think most prop forwards in his position would have defended themselves in the same way.

Hi Jeremy, Danny Cipriani has been outstanding for the Rebels of Australia in Super 15. Look at how he's been drawing defenders and cross-kicking to create tries. Don't you think he should be England's fly-half instead of Toby Flood, who who only seems to give inside ball and doesn't have the running game Cipriani has?
Sriyan, Sri Lanka

Hi Sriyan, Cipriani has had some good matches and not so good matches in the Super XV. I'm pleased for him that in the majority his game looks in good shape, although he's still not great in defence. Toby Flood has been in good form for his club and country and doesn't deserve to be dropped.

Cipriani is well down the pecking order as far as Martin Johnson is concerned. Cipriani's chances of playing in the Rugby World Cup are very slim, he probably needs Jonny Wilkinson and Flood to get injured to be in with a chance.

Hi Jeremy. I am a back rower for my club and my coach is putting me forward for county trials in the near future, is there any advice that you can give me to improve my chances of getting through? Thanks.
Sam, UK

Hi Sam, my advice would be to go out and play like you have been doing this season. Try and remember your best games, how you felt and what might have made the difference on that day. Be confident in your own ability to be as good, if not better than the players you're competing with. You wouldn't have been put forward if your coach didn't believe you were good enough. Go get 'em and good luck.

And finally... apologies to all those who wrote in last week pointing out that New Zealand won the RWC in 1987. I accidentally omitted the word recently in one of my answers, which rather changed the meaning and suggested they'd never won it! I'm really looking forward to seeing if they can make it two out of two on home soil later this year.

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



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see also
Two-week bans for Ayerza & Marler
04 Apr 11 |  Rugby Union
Saracens 20-9 Bath
03 Apr 11 |  Rugby Union
London Irish 25-12 Wasps
03 Apr 11 |  Rugby Union
Henson scores try in Toulon debut
02 Apr 11 |  Welsh
Titan given three-month drug ban
01 Apr 11 |  Rugby Union
Scots aim to address poor showing
31 Mar 11 |  Scottish
Bath want All Blacks star Carter
30 Mar 11 |  Bath
Leg break ends Barkley's season
07 Mar 11 |  Bath


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