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Jeremy Guscott Q&A

Ian McGeechan
Jerry feels Ian McGeechan is still the right man to lead Bath

Former England and Lions centre Jeremy Guscott answers your questions after an exciting weekend of European action.

Among the topics Jerry discusses this week are:

- Stuart Lancaster's future as England coach if he is successful

- What's gone wrong at Bath

- Who will win the Heineken Cup

- The exodus of Welsh players to overseas clubs

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.


If Stuart Lancaster and company lead England to a Grand Slam, should they have first refusal on the full-time job? If not, why?
Paul Crookall, UK

Hi Paul, if Stuart Lancaster and his team of coaches lead England to a Grand Slam or championship win they will be in a very good position to be given the permanent role. After everything that has gone on in the recent past I think it's still a good idea to listen to and interview any possible candidates like Nick Mallett, Jim Mallinder and Wayne Smith. If Stuart Lancaster's team did win the Grand Slam, it would be very difficult not to let him continue.

With Steve Hansen's appointment as the new All Blacks coach and talk of a panel of coaches as per Graham Henry's reign, do you think this is a suitable strategy for the England camp and their new coaching panel?
Mark McKinnon, The Netherlands

Hi Mark, what works for one nation doesn't always work for another. Rod Macqueen's way worked back in 1999 and Clive Woodward implemented a very similar plan when he took over with England back in 1997. Graham Henry's strategy didn't work in 2007 but they learnt from their mistakes and made it work in 2011. If you look at all the Rugby World Cup winners, the coaching set-up has been different. England have to work on a set-up that works for them and that starts with choosing the right head coach and working on his plans, ideas and strategy. Realistically, it relies heavily on a good head coach choosing very good assistant coaches, a captain capable of leading by example and then getting selection right.

As a former Bath player, can you pinpoint what is going wrong for them this year? The recent investment into the club doesn't seem to be paying off.
Jamie Gray, England

After this latest European humiliation surely Ian McGeechan has to go from the Bath helm? Steve Meehan should never have left.
Luke, England

Hats off to Leinster who were fantastic, but what is wrong at Bath? A rich owner and a respected coach is great, but the players look clueless and uninterested. It's incredibly frustrating and they look off the pace in Europe and the league. What's going on?
Myles Cavendish

Hi Jamie, Luke and Myles, there's no question that Bath are struggling to produce winning performances and that is frustrating for everyone concerned. Change is never easy, and a new owner, CEO and head coach all in 18 months generally means slow progress because everybody has to get used to each other.

There is no doubt in my mind that McGeechan has one of the best rugby brains out there and will be working hard to get the team to play how they need to. I simply feel that all the players he needs to succeed haven't yet been brought in or developed.

Looking at the player roster, the Bath squad is a mid-table team at best. They are in a tight group of teams that are separated by six points, so they're far from out of touch at the top.

The problem, as always, is expectation and fans' expectations should be more realistic. It will take time for the likes of Stephen Donald, Francois Louw and the other newcomers and youngsters to form a bond, so that means the team will take time to click. Bath need a much more stronger front row and some speed in the backs to be a real threat, and until that happens the expectation should be mid-table, possibly fourth at a push.

With wins for Gloucester, Leicester, Saracens, Harlequins, Northampton, Sale, Exeter, Worcester and Wasps in European competition this weekend do you think this shows the Premiership is the strongest league in Europe?
John

Hi John, in the Heineken Cup only Sarries look assured of progressing. Quins and Leicester have reasonable chances and Bath, London Irish, Gloucester and Saints are pretty much gone. Looking at that it would suggest to me that the Premiership is far from the strongest league in Europe.

What do you think about Cardiff Blues' problem with scoring tries?

Dan Parks
Is Dan Parks restricting the talents of other players in the Cardiff Blues side?

They clearly have the talent in the backline but Dan Parks stands too deep to release them. Against Edinburgh he took the ball running at the defence once and made a half break.
Artie, Wales

Hi Artie, with players like Jamie Roberts, Casey Laulala, Leigh Halfpenny and Lloyd Williams it is odd that the tries are not flowing. All these players have a say in how they play. If they feel Dan Parks is restricting them he wouldn't be picked. It's a problem the players themselves have to resolve.

Simple question really: after four rounds, who do you think will win the Heineken Cup?
Alex Caplan, London

Hi Alex, all the teams at the top of their respective pools have a chance. Looking at the form, Leinster and Munster have gone unbeaten and I would have said Toulouse stood a good chance, but after losing to Quins I'm not so sure. As always, a lot will depend on home ties for the knockout stage. At this point in the competition, I would go for Leinster winning it.

What a brilliant win for Harlequins. They have now beaten two of the biggest teams in Europe away from The Stoop (Munster & Toulouse). Given that Quins have a young squad, how far can they go in the coming years?
Adam, England

After Harlequins' form in the first half of this season, do you think any of their English players will make the Elite Performance Squad for the Six Nations?
Andy Hair

Hi Adam and Andy, Quins look very good this season. After that away victory against Toulouse they must believe they have a very good chance in all competitions. With a young squad they have every opportunity of being a dominant force in domestic and European rugby but they have to get that first step on the ladder and win either the Premiership or Heineken Cup. Until that happens they will remain only a good team.

Given the tide of players leaving Wales for big-spending clubs in France, do you think that we are far away from seeing central contracts from the WRU?
Ian, Wales

How do you stop the rot of Welsh players playing overseas? In my opinion the WRU should create a rule that anyone playing overseas is not selectable. Do you agree?
Dai Williams, Newport

Hi Ian and Dai, it's hard to see the Welsh players being centrally contracted after the investment made by the regions' owners but central contracts would go a long way to stopping a lot of players leaving Wales. I don't think there should ever be a block on players leaving but they should have it written into their contracts that they are free to leave for international games and training camps.

Jonny Wilkinson has extended his contract with Toulon. How much longer can he play on for and will we ever see another English fly-half as great as he was? Any tips for the future?
Dave

Hi Dave, Jonny Wilkinson was a great international who tackled like no other number 10 and his penalty/conversation success must be up there as the best ever. His ability to attack the gain line was not in the calibre of some other past English 10s such as Stuart Barnes, Danny Cipriani and Toby Flood, but as an overall package he was the best English 10 that I've seen. Wilkinson could easily play for another two seasons. I think he's only renewed for another season [until the end of the 2012/2013 season] to enable him to take stock and not discount what might be on offer to him in 18 months outside of rugby. Young players like Freddie Burns at Gloucester, Owen Farrell at Sarries and George Ford at Leicester are up and coming.


Follow Jerry on Twitter: @JeremyGuscott



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see also
Toulouse 24-31 Harlequins
19 Dec 11 |  Rugby Union
Bath 'must learn from Cup exit'
19 Dec 11 |  Bath
Leinster 52-27 Bath
19 Dec 11 |  Rugby Union
Northampton 45-0 Castres
19 Dec 11 |  Rugby Union
Munster 19-13 Scarlets
19 Dec 11 |  Rugby Union
Sale 41-21 Agen
18 Dec 11 |  Rugby Union
Wilkinson extends Toulon contract
17 Dec 11 |  Rugby Union
Leicester 23-19 Clermont Auvergne
17 Dec 11 |  Rugby Union
Jeremy Guscott Q&A
14 Dec 11 |  Rugby Union


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