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Page last updated at 20:09 GMT, Monday, 23 May 2011 21:09 UK

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 about the latest issues in rugby union.

Among the topics Jerry discusses this week are:

- Leinster's incredible second-half fightback to win the Heineken Cup

- Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder saying his side's fatigue was the reason for their dramatic defeat

- Worcester's prospects in next season's Premiership

- This weekend's Premiership final between Leicester and Saracens

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.

What a fantastic advert for our game on Saturday. I believe the result demonstrated the relative positions of the game in Ireland and England. There's plenty of ability and strength within England but they lacked the big game mentality to close the game out.

I am proud of the Saints performance, if a little disappointed. How do you feel the game's devastating turnaround will affect them in the future? Do they take encouragement from their development to kick on for trophies or will this scar their ability to win the most important games?
Jeremy, UK

Hi Jeremy, Saints can be proud of their performance and disappointed in the result. Their lack of strength in depth, particularly up front, was one of the main reasons they lost against Leinster, and Leicester the week before. I believe boss JIm Mallinder will strengthen his forwards ready for another attempt at winning both the Heineken Cup and the Premiership.

I've said in the past that if Saints have serious plans to be winners they will need a fly-half who can cause defences problems. Stephen Myler is good but not quite international quality. Saints need a 10 that can kick but also threaten with ball in hand.

Leinster celebrate their Heineken Cup win
Leinster produced one of the great comebacks to win the Heineken Cup

As a Saints fan I was quite disappointed with this end to the season, but don't get me wrong I was still really proud that we achieved what we did. The noticeable thing in the HC final was how ordinary Myler looked after Saints stopped getting as much ball from the forwards, I don't feel he really stood up and took a hold of the game as Jonathan Sexton did.

With Ryan Lamb coming to Saints over the summer for the new season my question is, is he the right man for the job?
Matt Helfet, England

Hi Matt, I believe Lamb is very similar to Shane Geraghty, he can be brilliant one minute and ordinary the next. If Lamb can perform consistently and defend hard then he will take the spot away from Myler. Not sure why everything did not work out for Lamb at London Irish, I thought Mike Catt would get the best out of him, but maybe Paul Grayson can.

Has Sexton (JS) got one hand on the Lions number 10 shirt after his display against Northampton?
Gavin, Australia

Hi Gavin, there's no doubt JS played a fantastic game, he really was inspirational for his team in a wonderful performance. If the Lions were playing next week it would be a close run selection between him and Toby Flood.

How did Leinster manage to turn around the scrum like that on Saturday?
Stephen McGoveren, Ireland

Hi Stephen, it would have been a combination of tiredness from Saints, Leinster with their tails up after scoring quickly in the second half, replacements and the sin-binning of Brian Mujati.

How do you see

" STYLE="LINK_Inline">Worcester performing in the Premiership next season - and do you have any tips to their survival in their first season back in the top flight?
Mark, England

Hi Mark, they certainly need to play better than they did in their last game against the Cornish Pirates but I guess there was a lot of pressure on the guys. For the Premiership next season I guess Richard Hill will target around six or seven wins, with bonus points that would take their total to around 30 points, which would be enough to stay up.

It will be incredibly difficult but Exeter Chiefs have shown the way and with Worcester's resources I would expect the same if not more. Hill's problem will be getting a strong enough squad to compete against the rest of the Premiership, especially some hardcore forwards.

Manu Tuilagi
The length of Tuilagi's ban has prompted much debate

How is it that Delon Armitage gets an eight-week ban for pushing a doping officer and using "threatening and abusive" language, and Manu Tuilagi gets only five weeks for those punches on Chris Ashton?
Will Phillips, UK

Hi Will, I can't explain why the disciplinary committee feel five weeks was enough. We don't know all the circumstances of what happened with Armitage but it was deemed serious enough for the eight weeks to be dished out. I believe the disciplinary team get it right most of the time.

How long do you think it will take Bath to get back to their old glory days?
Jon, UK

Hi Jon, Bath need a more powerful and destructive pack with three or four very good ball carriers amongst that eight. They need a bit more size alongside Matt Banahan and a real genuine threat at 10 who can both kick and run with ball in hand and is a threat to defences - number 10 is crucial for any side.

They also need more consistency from Nick Abendanon and the likes of Matt Carraro. I believe Bruce Craig, Nick Blofeld and Ian McGeechan have the plans to succeed but it will take another couple of seasons to get all the players good enough for the job.

After watching the top clubs in the Premiership getting knocked out of the Heineken Cup, do you think that the standard of English rugby union is dropping?
Jonny, Hampshire

Hi Jonny, I believe the Premiership clubs put up a good fight in the HC but fell short on performances when it mattered. Leinster proved their quality last weekend with their victory in the final and if we are all honest they were favourites given their star players. To compete with the likes of Leinster, the English teams have to build that star quality into their teams with very good back-up.

As an Ulster supporter I was very disappointed to hear Jim Mallinder's comments following the Heineken Cup final. Mallinder seemingly blamed the fact that Leinster had 'rested their five best players' against Ulster in the previous match.

He said this despite the fact that Leinster's team against Ulster had 12 of the same starting XV that played against Northampton, in a game Brian O'Driscoll and Mike Ross were forced off injured in a bruising encounter. Should he not just accept that Leinster played out of their skins instead of disrespecting other rugby clubs?
Sandy M, Scotland

Hi Sandy, Mallinder was extremely disappointed, and understandably, but I think in the cold light of day he will come to terms with the fact Leinster are a better team.

Can you explain what exactly the role of the performance director for the RFU is supposed to be please. I have to say I find it hard to believe that whomever is the England manager should be reporting to, or be subservient to, the performance director.

I would have thought that the latter should be looking to create a system that provides a pool of high calibre players for RFU teams to select from and not be responsible for the team performance in any match on any day, that surely is the responsibility of the team manager? Kind regards,
Des, Malaysia

Hi Des, it does seem a little unusual given the way the rest of the world's national teams operate without a performance director. You will have to look on the RFU website for the performance director's job description. As I understand it the PD will not be picking the England teams but putting in place the structures that will bring talented players and coaches to the top end of the game. Whether this is the right way to go only time will tell.

When refs are so quick to penalise line-outs that are not thrown straight, why is feeding in scrums still completely overlooked? I've watched a lot of rugby over the last few days and was amazed to see how many scrums were illegally fed. Why the reluctance to sort this out when it provides such an advantage? Please tell me it will be clamped down on before the World Cup?
Damien, UK

Hi Damien, I agree with you and it is an easy fix, but until the ref bosses sort it out it will unfortunately continue.

It is going to be a very close call, but what do you predict will be the outcome of the Premiership final this Saturday? It should be a tremendous clash of styles, but will Leicester's experience and balance or Saracens' pragmatism and momentum prove crucial?
Benjamin Norris, England

Hi Benjamin, this week's final is a real close one to call. A few weeks ago I thought Sarries because of the momentum they had generated but I think the week's break has helped Tigers get themselves ready for another tough match. The final last year was a brilliant game, Sarries are not playing like they were this time last year and have decided the more pragmatic approach will get the the trophy. Even though Sarries have done the double over Tigers this season I believe Leicester's experience will see them through.

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



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see also
Sexton speech sparks Leinster win
22 May 11 |  Rugby Union
Fatigue was to blame - Mallinder
22 May 11 |  Rugby Union
Harlequins 19-18 Stade Francais
20 May 11 |  Rugby Union
RFU chief Steele must go - Cotton
22 May 11 |  Rugby Union
Woodward rules out return to RFU
19 May 11 |  Rugby Union


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