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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 ahead of the World Cup in New Zealand.

Among the topics Jerry discusses this week are:

- How the home nations will fare in the World Cup, which kicks off on Friday in Auckland

- The selection of England captain Lewis Moody

- Who the favourites are for the tournament, as South Africa attempt to defend their title

- The form of France, Australia and New Zealand

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.


Hi Jeremy, England's captain Lewis Moody is not fully fit and it seems he will struggle to last the tournament. I think Martin Johnson has failed on two fronts here: Moody is not a true open-side flanker but if he doesn't play the options are even more limited; Johnson has shown too much faith in someone who just hasn't proven his fitness. What do you think?

Dylan, Australia

Lewis Moody leaves the pitch against Wales
Moody will miss England's first match against Argentina on Friday

Hi Dylan, Martin Johnson's job largely depends on the players he selects and the results those players deliver. He knows better than most if he makes the wrong choices England fail and he loses his job.

He knows he's taking a risk with Moody but I would imagine on the back of medical advice and conversations with the player Johnson has decided he's worth the risk. If Moody's knee blows up when he plays then a replacement can be brought in.

Hi Jeremy, how far do you think each of the four home nations will advance in this World Cup, and do you see any of them being a genuine threat to the Tri-Nations sides? Also do you see any of the matches springing a surprise result?

Christian, Wales

Hi Christian, all four home unions are seeded within the top eight and I would expect them to qualify through the pool stages into the knockout phase, however, that's not to say I would be surprised if a couple didn't make it! Most of the home unions have beaten South Africa or Australia at home in recent years but not New Zealand.

Shane Williams
Shane Williams will be looking to add to his record 57 tries for Wales

I wouldn't be surprised if England reached the semi-finals and met Australia and beat them because of what happened last autumn. If Ireland played as well as they hope to with all their experience and beat Australia in the group stage I wouldn't be surprised.

Conversely, if Wales beat South Africa in their first match playing as well as they did to win Grand Slams, I wouldn't be surprised. How many Scots would be surprised if they beat England and Argentina? Whilst I wouldn't be surprised, most, if not all, would be against the form book but not impossible. I really can't see past a southern hemisphere world champion.

Hi Jerry, having witnessed the paucity of tries from England during the warm-up matches do you think they, or any of the other home nations, have the attacking backs necessary to cut through the defences of the southern hemisphere?

Kev Williams, Wales

Hi Kev, at their best a good number of players in all home union squads have the ability to score tries, even Scotland!

Manu Tuilagi scores for England against Ireland

Highlights - Ireland 9-20 England

It takes intent plus near perfect execution of moves to split defences and we haven't been overwhelmed by any of our teams on that front.

I do think the home unions have players with the ability, but they've been lacking some ambition and execution of the plays.

For England there are Chris Ashton, Ben Foden, Mark Cueto and Manu Tuilagi; Wales have Mike Phillips, James Hook, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams, George North and Leigh Halfpenny; Ireland can look to Brian O'Driscoll, Tommy Bowe, Jonathan Sexton or Andrew Trimble, while Scotland have Rory Lamont, Joe Ansbro, Max Evans and Simon Danielli who can all score tries.

Who do you think will be England's key player in the World Cup?

Hugh Jeffery, England

Hi Hugh, not an easy question but I will go for scrum-half Ben Youngs. At his best in a very short international career he has generally made the right decisions.

Jeremy, as a proud Welshman I'm always the optimist but I really feel the current squad is capable of an upset. I also think Scotland can cause a few upsets too. What do you think?

Elliott, Wales

Hi Elliott, there is no doubt Wales have some very talented players and if they click at the same time throughout the tournament then, yes, they could cause an upset.

Richie Gray
Scotland lock Richie Gray will be playing in his first World Cup

So much depends on Wales' opening game against the Springboks, win that and everything is possible.

Scotland have gone unbeaten through their warm-up games, beating Italy and Ireland last month, which is good after a disappointing Six Nations.

The Scots have made it through to the knockout stages in every RWC - they should do so again.

France always have one outstanding knock-out game before being humbled in the next round. My worry is their outstanding game this time comes against England. Your thoughts?

Callum, England

Hi Callum, it's nigh-on impossible to predict when the French are going to let it rip and against who.

France coach Marc Lievremont
Lievrement will be replaced by Philippe Saint-Andre after the World Cup

I really don't think the French are in good shape given the early announcement of coach Marc Lievremont getting the push at the end of the World Cup.

They showed against Ireland in Dublin a few weeks ago how, when they want, they really are the business and their RWC record outside 1991 is pretty impressive. I don't think it will happen against England - France's record against England in World Cups isn't great.

Jerry, New Zealand must be favourites for the cup. But have they got their run-in wrong again, recently faltering in the Tri-Nations?

Peter Franklin, England

Hi Peter, the Tri-Nations defeats are a blessing in disguise for them, it will remind New Zealand that they are beatable and if they are to win the RWC they have to be at their very best.

Hi Jeremy, what are your thoughts on South Africa defending the title and who are the dark horses at this World Cup?

Shahin Mohun, South Africa

Hi Shahin, South Africa look good, the formula is pretty simple, kick, chase, defend and put pressure on the opposition, and as boring as it sounds it is incredibly effective. I can't see any dark horses at this stage.

Hi Jeremy, how do you rate Australia and can their front five match up to France or England, assuming they reach the semi-final stage?

Rob Kenny, Ireland

Hi Rob, never assume anything! Australia look good at this point - beating South Africa and New Zealand in winning the Tri-Nations, they couldn't really be in better shape.

Their front five, particularly the front row, has improved and looked solid against Tri-Nations opposition, which means they should be OK whoever they might play in the semis.

Jeremy, what/who do you feel could make the biggest upset of the 2011 RWC?

Tom, Scotland

Hi Tom, I think you might be setting me up here with you coming from Scotland?! No surprises in Pool A, France and New Zealand to qualify.

Dan Carter
Dan Carter will hope to inspire New Zealand to their first World Cup crown

Pool B two out of Scotland, Argentina and England, likely to be Scotland and England, and I would be surprised if England didn't top the pool.

Pool C, Australia and Ireland qualify.

Pool D, Wales and South Africa qualify. Surprises are likely to come in the quarter-finals.

Hi Jez, who do you think will be the new star of the World Cup? Last time it was J.M. Hernandez. Surely from a home nations point of view, Sam Warburton, Manu Tuilagi, Richie Gray and Sean O'Brien will be expected to shine?

Jon, UK

Hi Jon, I would love to see another Bryan Habana or Takudzwa Ngwenya and I'm sure we will get a few moments similar this year.

Hey Jerry, what's your prediction for top try-scorer at the World Cup? There seems to be no standout favourite as with previous years. Off the top of my head Zac Guildford and Digby Ioane are reasonable candidates...

James Dillon, Ireland

Hi James, you have to back one of the Kiwis given their record against Tonga and they will be at full strength for that one, plus they play Japan and that will be another very high scoring game.

How do you think the big Premiership clubs will fare without their international players and who do you think will be most affected?

Tom Holroyd, England

Hi Tom, I think Leicester Tigers have most internationals away on World Cup duty and will be heavily affected. Northampton struggled last season when their internationals were away on duty. Other teams with not so many players away will still be affected because those who are away will be some of their best players.

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



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see also
Rugby World Cup 2011 team guide
08 Sep 11 |  Rugby Union
Moody ruled out of England opener
07 Sep 11 |  English
Jeremy Guscott's World Cup Q&A
30 Aug 11 |  Rugby Union
Rugby World Cup fixtures and results
26 Sep 11 |  Rugby Union


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