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Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Tuesday, 16 August 2011 15:14 UK

Jeremy Guscott's World Cup 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 rugby union questions as the World Cup looms ever closer.

Among the topics Jerry discusses this week are:

- England's disappointing performance as they lost 19-9 to Wales in their penultimate World Cup warm-up game

- Wales' defence as they kept the visitors try-less despite coming under heavy pressure

- Who should start at fly-half for the two countries, and who should play in the centres for England

- World champions South Africa's readiness for the World Cup after resting players for the start of the Tri-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.

Jeremy, have you ever seen such a poor and clueless attacking performance from an England back line as they produced in the defeat by Wales? Fly-half Toby Flood appeared not to know any moves other than an inside pass. What have they been doing in training for the past six weeks?

It's easy for the media to point the finger at centres Shontayne Hape and Mike Tindall but they are not calling the moves and why on earth did they not bring full-back Ben Foden into the game? You played in a potent England backline, in your opinion what is going wrong?
Philip Jennings, England

Mike Tindall is tackled by the Wales defence on Saturday
England centre Tindall struggles with time, space and pace

Hi Philip, I didn't enjoy watching last Saturday, it was very disappointing from England. They have shown us how well they can play - the match against Australia in November is the benchmark that England have to live up to and they didn't in Cardiff.

England's players appear to freeze mentally, which regularly prevents them from making good decisions. Hape should have been deployed just as he was when he was a rugby league player but attack coach Brian Smith hasn't got that potential out of him. Tindall struggles with time, space and pace. Making instant decisions on the move isn't his skill, you need to run him hard and direct at the defence, with support to work off him.

Flood is having a mini crisis by the standards he set in earlier games. He's not helped by slow ball being produced at the breakdown, but he's still not setting his backline alight.

England need to play a more basic style, with the centres running more directly and Matt Banahan helping out to dent the opposition defence. Combine that with powerful forward runners such as Dylan Hartley, James Haskell and Tom Croft, throw in quick ball, and you should be creating mis-matches for the likes of Chris Ashton, Mark Cueto and Ben Foden.

England's poor play always comes from slow ball, or poor decision making once a planned move hasn't worked. Thinking off the cuff and reacting to what's happening isn't in large supply amongst this England squad.

How the hell did England lose that match against Wales?
Simon, Wales

Hi Simon, quite simply England were not clinical enough in their execution of a lot of their play - particularly at the breakdown and the way their three-quarters performed.

Hi Jeremy, would you not agree that Saturday's match was more a reflection of how bad England are offensively, rather than Wales being good defensively?
Ifan, Wales

Hi Ifan, I believe Wales, despite England's poor offensive execution, defended very well. The tackles have to be made and they committed, chased and scrambled to make them.

I just don't see where England are going with this smash, smash, smash and nothing else approach. What are they trying to do? The backs can't pass and then there's Tindall nearly tripping over his own feet! I just can't see a southern hemisphere side having that much possession and turning round having only scored six points. I am a level two coach, soon to do level three, and I just can't see what they are trying to achieve. Thanks.
Andy Barrett, England

Hi Andy, England are trying this smash, smash, smash approach in the hope of teams succumbing to their power and thus enabling them to create quick ball, but it failed miserably in the last game. I'll say it again, Australia last season was the benchmark - we know this team is capable of better.

Two weeks in a row I've watched an England forward either drop a pass or lose the ball in contact and turn possession over, and that's a pretty low level of performance for an international. Too many of those mistakes and it halts a team's momentum and really sucks it out of you as a side.

With Jonny Wilkinson's strong performance a week ago and England's lack of cutting edge with Toby Flood at 10, who do you think will be our starting 10 for the World Cup?

On performances so far, Wilkinson should start at 10.

Jonny Wilkinson directs play against Wales
England need Wilkinson to come in and direct the play

Hi Jerry, welcome back! Short but sweet - who would be your centre pairing for England? Thanks, Scott.
Scott Standing,UK

Hi Jeremy, after reading and seeing a variety of pundits' views on England's centre problems, who would your ideal pairing be for the World Cup? Also, does your choice depend on a certain 10 or any? Thanks, Sam.
Sam Musgrove, England

Hi Jerry, the England midfield seems devoid of any ideas of how to penetrate opposition defences. This is nothing new and I am surprised that England's one dimensional play at 12 and 13 has gone on as long as it has. Don't you think that Martin Johnson needs to now stand up and assign the Tindall/Hape combination to history? If he doesn't then I don't see us unlocking Georgia let alone any of the southern hemisphere teams.
Darren Collinson, Qatar

Hi Scott, I'm really at a loss as to which centres I would choose because most of the performances have been so sub-standard. Manu Tuilagi has had the biggest impact, not just because he scored in the first warm-up match against Wales but because he went for it, didn't hold back and had an impact. Hape and Tindall have shown little form in attack, although they defended well during the Six Nations.

Riki Flutey's performance has been my biggest disappointment because he's experienced enough to be playing much better than he is. He had no impact in the win over Wales and I just don't understand why.

I don't like the balance of either Toby Flood or Jonny Wilkinson playing at 12, they are fly-halves and neither of them has great pace or the power to get through tackles to off-load or get over the gain line. It doesn't matter who plays 10 in terms of whom I would select to play in the centre.

I don't have an ideal England pairing but I would like to see Flutey and Tuilagi go again. The likely reality is that Martin Johnson will stick with what he's tried and tested, which means England fans can probably look forward to a Hape/Tindall combination.

Hi Jeremy, what is the point in having Banahan - 6ft 7in and 18st 2lb - on the wing when he can't even get past Shane Williams - 5ft 7in and 12st 8lb - to score five metres from the try line?
Freddie, England

Hi Freddie, Banahan didn't get the best pass, but he was too flat and so received the ball pretty much standing still. He still should have done better and certainly should never have lost the ball in contact.

As a world-class centre in your day surely you must be utterly bemused at the lack of England's inventiveness in attack. We are so easy to defend against! What advice would you give to the England players and coaching staff?
Brian Chick, England

Hi Brian, I'm sure England must have a number of backs moves that they practise; I'm wondering why we haven't seen them in these warm-up games and I hope we do against Ireland. I would have England's backs play a more basic game, making sure they understand their roles and positions more than they appear to at the moment.

They need to have Flood take the ball up closer to the defence, as he did in his early games in the Six Nations. I would have Hape and Tindall running with more power than they currently are. England also need to clear the contact area quicker, getting the ball away from the breakdown and through the hands to their dangerous attackers, Ashton, Foden and Cueto.

James Hook catches the ball against England
Hook's versatility means he can play virtually anywhere in the back line

Hi Jeremy, I think we all know that James Hook will be in the starting XV for Wales at the World Cup, but where do you think he will play, at 10, 12, 13 or 15? Do you think the injury to Gavin Henson or the emergence of Rhys Priestland could determine his position?
Gavin, Wales

Hi Gavin, it looks clear to me that Wales boss Warren Gatland has made Hook his first choice 10, he played the last two Six Nations games there. Unfortunately for Hook if a first-choice centre or full-back gets injured he has to fill in.

Hook is without doubt Wales' best 10; he will tend to make a few more errors because he's creative, but he's the most dangerous 10 attacking with ball in hand. Priestland has shown he has the temperament to play international rugby; he'll replace the veteran Stephen Jones after the World Cup.

Hi Jeremy, Ireland have lost two matches now, playing their B team against Scotland and not far off their B team against France. Is it essential they get the big guns out for the remaining two matches to try and finish off with victories and boost confidence levels?
Stephen McGovern, Ireland

Hi Stephen, we can only judge Ireland properly when we see a full-strength team playing, I imagine coach Declan Kidney will put it out against France this week.

Do you think South Africa's star players have enough rugby between now and the World Cup to get up to speed or do you see Samoa or Wales causing an upset?
Charlie, UK

Hi Charlie, South Africa may have rested big names at the start of the Tri-Nations but they will be well prepared and will be exactly how they want to be. Their star players are so experienced I'm sure they've told boss Peter de Villiers exactly how they want to be prepared going into this World Cup.

Do you think Scotland will either: 1) Qualify from the group by beating one of England and Argentina, or 2) Qualify as group winners by beating both England and Argentina?
Alastair, Scotland

Hi Alastair, option one - Scotland will qualify by beating either England or Argentina.

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see also
Highlights - Wales 19-9 England
13 Aug 11 |  Rugby Union
Wales 19-9 England
14 Aug 11 |  Rugby Union
Henson's World Cup hopes dashed
22 Aug 11 |  Welsh
Flood criticises England display
14 Aug 11 |  Rugby Union
England 23-19 Wales
06 Aug 11 |  Rugby Union

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