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Jeremy Guscott Q&A

Barbarians against Australia at Twickenham
Australia thrashed the Barbarians 60-11 at Twickenham

Former England and Lions centre Jeremy Guscott answers your questions after another dramatic week on and off the field.

Among the main talking points are:

- The continued fall-out from England's Rugby World Cup campaign

- The Barbarians' 60-11 defeat by Australia

- Saturday's Wales v Australia Test in Cardiff

- Northampton's 30-8 thrashing of high-flying Saracens

If you have any questions for Jeremy, please use the post form on this page. He will answer as many as possible but not every question submitted can be used. This week's answers appear below.

After the abysmal Barbarians showing, is it time to go back to the old format of having mainly UK/Ireland-based players, one uncapped, rather than paying top players big money for a "jolly"? Many of the Barbarians players didn't seem interested in the game.
Rog Webber, Canada

The Barbarians were a joke, very disappointing and a waste of my money and a Saturday afternoon. What would you do to stop this rot?
Jonathan Hedges, England

Hi Rog and Jonathan. In all honesty, some of the Baa-Baas players looked and played as if the whole week leading up to the match against Australia had been one big social event and was not really on their minds. It's not how it has been in recent times. The last few games have been real contests and the Baa-Baas have played really well, which made it more than competitive. Individuals have to realise it is their reputations on the line - and all but a very few left lasting memories for the paying supporters on Saturday. I don't think it's time to only pick UK and Ireland players - because of their domestic commitments they won't always be allowed to play. The Barbarians committee will have to be very selective next year and just make sure the players don't go too mad socially.

After watching Sam Tomkins play for the Baa-Baas on Saturday, I was hardly surprised. I felt his selection was debatable, he was out of position and made decisive errors in his defensive decisions. What are your views on his performance?
Neil W, Wales

Hi Neil. Tomkins certainly wasn't helped by the experienced quality players around him last Saturday and, when going into contact, it showed he wasn't on point regards the breakdown, which isn't surprising given his short time training. I'm glad they picked him, I just wish he had a better ride. He certainly has the handling, running and defences qualities to play union.

Do you think the continuing fall-out from England's World Cup campaign is over the top? They didn't perform well but only lost one game.
Steve, Wales

Hi Steve. Taken in isolation, the fact England only lost one game doesn't sound that bad but consider the expectation from within. After winning last season's Six Nations, England's target would have been the semi-finals. They fell short and the way they played made that target look unlikely, even though they were winning games. I'm not sure if there is any more to come apart from this Slaughter and May report. It will be interesting to see how the council votes on the recommendations.

With the imminent retirement of Shane Williams, who do you think are currently the two best wingers in world rugby?
David Carr, England

Hi David. In my humble opinion, Digby Ioane is the best winger playing international rugby right now and someone like Cory Jane isn't too far behind. These guys really turn the heat up when they get the ball. It's time players like these - and the guys coming after Shane - got the ball more. I just wish that coaches would put more emphasis on attack as they do on defence.

Digby Ioane
Ioane's all-action style has caught the eye of Jeremy Guscott

Hi Jeremy, I notice your usually spot-on Premiership predictions were a bit wide of the mark this past weekend. That isn't a criticism but a reflection on just how tight the battle is this season. Do you think that the closeness indicates a healthy, strong competition or that most teams are simply a pretty mediocre bunch.
John Lilley, England

Hi John. Predictions, predictions, predictions... it's a toughie at the moment getting anywhere near a right result. I believe the Premiership is as healthy as ever and is made more interesting with teams getting their internationals back. Harlequins have been exceptional and will definitely be in the top four come the end. It's hard to bet against the current champs, Saracens, as well. Northampton will be a very strong force now it looks unlikely they will progress any further in the Heineken Cup. Leicester will be coming like a steam train but their worry will be having to win all games in all competitions and keeping players fresh. I know the weather isn't great for a lot of the season and the fact we have relegation doesn't enthuse coaches with the idea of more attacking plays, but I wish they would focus more on attack.

Northampton produced a strong performance in their 30-8 victory over Saracens on Saturday with Lee Dickson being the stand-out player in my opinion. Do you think that he has the quality to become an England scrum-half or is he going to be branded as a 'good club player?'
James, England

Hi James, I agree that Dickson had a brilliant game - he made good decisions, he went on little runs and his kicking was OK. What I really liked was how quickly he got to the breakdown to move the ball on again. The hard facts are that he's playing in an era when England have a few top-notch number nines - Ben Youngs, Danny Care and Joe Simpson. Dickson needs to continue playing the way he has and, if Northampton continue to win, he will be in the shop window. If he plays this weekend, he's got a great opportunity to showcase his talents against England's current first choice, Youngs.

What does Northampton's Phil Dowson have to do to be recognised as one of England's best back-rowers? He is a great leader and consistently good!
Brad Holway, England

Hi Brad. He will hope Jim Mallinder, his coach at Northampton, becomes England's next head coach!

Why is nobody mentioning Richard Cockerill as a possible England coach? He has a fantastic record and has shown he can re-ignite talent.
Balall, UK

Hi Balall. I mentioned Cockerill as a possible left-field selection but it's very unlikely because I'm pretty sure he's ruled himself out. What I like about Cockerill is that he tells it as it is, which is very refreshing. The RFU communications department would be panicking every time he spoke. To be slightly serious, I think Cockerill feels he's building a decent squad at Leicester and wants the opportunity to get everything right and have a real tilt at some big honours.

I love the Lions tour, what do you make of it these days? Is 10 games too much? Or not enough? People always question its place in the modern game but I think its fantastic. What do you think?
Dave Morgan, Wales

Hi Dave. I'm a huge fan of the Lions. I loved everything about being involved as a player. The challenge of being selected, going to the southern hemisphere generally as underdogs, finding out so much about yourself in such an intense competitive environment... you can't beat it. Look at the last tour. Even though the team lost, the comments from everyone involved said so much about how much of a special experience it was. Those that will still be around will be desperate to get on the plane to Oz.

Looking towards the Wales v Australia match, which individual battle are you looking forward to seeing the most? O'Connor v Priestland?
Tom, England

Hi Tom. There are so many. Pretty much one to 15 looks a great contest. The stand-outs would be Pocock/Warburton, Horne/Roberts, Halfpenny/Ashley-Cooper and O'Connor/Priestland. It's going to be a brilliant game despite both teams missing players.

Follow Jerry on Twitter: @JeremyGuscott

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see also
Barbarians 11-60 Australia
26 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union
Brumbies say White will not leave
28 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union
Damning World Cup reports leaked
23 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union
I was not driven by money - Moody
23 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union
Johnson defends World Cup regime
26 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union
RFU has hit rock bottom - Andrew
24 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union
Worse to come for England - Moore
25 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union
RFU to investigate reports leak
24 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union

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