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Jeremy Guscott Q&A

Chris Robshaw makes a point during training with England this week
Chris Robshaw has been named England captain

Jeremy Guscott

Former England centre Jeremy Guscott answers your questions as the Six Nations looms

Among the topics dominating discussion this week are:

- Chris Robshaw named as new England captain

- Who should make the respective starting XVs for the opening round of Six Nations matches at the weekend?

- England prop Andrew Sheridan announcing he is moving to French side Toulon in the summer

- Rugby league convert Joel Tomkins scoring two tries on his Saracens debut

- Heyneke Meyer being named the new South Africa coach

If you have any questions for Jerry, please use the post form on this page. He will answer as many as possible but not every question submitted can be used.

Who do you think will be missed most by their country, Shane Williams, Jonny Wilkinson, Chris Paterson or Brian O'Driscoll?
Jono, UK

Hi Jono, all will be equally missed by each of their countries. O'Driscoll for his ability to make the big plays when Ireland have needed them, plus his leadrship. Wilkinson for his experience and goalkicking and the fact when most teams saw his name on the team sheet, it made them think 'we must not give kickable penalties away today'. Shane Williams for his excitement to make the crowd stand up and applaud his skills. Chris Paterson for his goalkicking. All great players and they will be missed, but other names will take their places even if those four won't be forgotten.

Who do you think will be the star of the Six Nations? Will it be an experienced player or will a new star burst onto the scene?
Jon, UK

Hi Jon, there are some brilliant established international stars in the competition this season as always, some young and some old. Thierry Dusautoir is the IRB player of the year, Sergio Parisse never plays badly, Sam Warburton, Jamie Roberts, Stephen Ferris, Sean O'Brien, Chris Ashton, Ben Youngs, Richie Gray. It's incredibly difficult to pick one but you would generally look at the players in form, and the Irish would apear to have the edge. Someone new to look at if he's selected would be France centre Wesley Fofana.

Hi Jeremy, please give your predictions for this weekend's Six Nations matches.
Tim van Zeller, South Africa

Hi Tim, it's difficult to do the predictions at this stage without knowing the teams but I would say France will win at home against Italy and Scotland (against England) and Ireland (against Wales) would be favourites at home.

Jeremy, How can Robshaw possibly be the best choice for England captain? He is not the best six, seven or eight in the country. He has one Test cap to his name. He could not possibly be guaranteed his spot beyond this Six Nations. Very strange decision.

Hi Will, I'm not worried about the number of caps he's got; he's done a very good job at Quins and will have the respect of the players he's playing with. We don't know yet where he will be playing but he's been one of the stand-out performers so far this season.

Chris Robshaw
Chris Robshaw has been named England captain despite having just one international cap

Jerry, with all the talk of the "leadership group" in the England squad at the moment, do you think it could be beneficial for Stuart Lancaster to rotate who is captain over the course of the Six Nations? Understandably consistency in selection is important for team-building, but perhaps giving each player with captaincy potential a chance to shine could allow the best candidate to emerge? At the early stage of the squad re-building phase, it could be a useful chance to test the mettle of a number of players and could be better in the long-term. What are your thoughts?
Harley, England

Hi Harley, I don't agree with rotation of captaincy; ideally there will be a stand-out candidate and at the moment it's Robshaw. If he doesn't perform, firstly as a player, I'm sure he will be stripped of the armband we can't have another Lewis Moody situation where his formed dropped but Martin Johnson still picked him.

Hi Jerry, Delon Armitage has got himself arrested for assault, following no less than four suspensions last year. If the charges stick, should this be the end of his England career? Al, England

Hi Al, it appears that Armitage has some demons within at the moment; whatever he's doing he can't get it right. He was arrested and released, so let's see what happens before making too harsh a judgement. Lancaster has decided to kick him out of the Saxons squad while the incident is being investigated, and I tend to agree with that decision. I hope Armitage sorts himself out because it's a wasted talent if he doesn't. I agree with Lancaster when he says the England squad players can't afford to put themselves in any situation where there might be a threat to their professionalism. You have to walk or run away or, as he says, just don't go there.

How would you rate this current England squad with regards to potential, compared to the famous England squad that Clive Woodward started with in 1997 and went on to win the World Cup?
Wesley Stok, England

Hi Wesley, in Woodward's first game in charge he had players like Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Richard Hill, Neil Back, Mike Catt, Will Greenwood, Jason Leonard, Kyran Bracken and Danny Grewcock in the squad. I think it's fair to say this new squad has a fair bit to go to match that of 97.

I watched Joel Tomkins play at the weekend and was impressed for a first outing and only third game of union; strong upright runner, great passing skills, good strong tackler wrapping up the ball in the tackle to pevent any offload. Was also nice to see Saracens playing a more open game. What are your thoughts on Joel's future?
Andy, England

Joel Tomkins
Former Wigan Warriors man Joel Tomkins scored twice on his rugby union debut

Hi Andy, the centre position hasn't been a position of strength for England in a while and any player performing will have a chance. Manu Tuilagi will keep his place as long as he keeps his form. The challengers for the other spot are Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt, Jordan Turner-Hall, Henry Trinder, Billy Twelvetrees and Matt Hopper. If Tomkins gets a run of games he could push for the summer tour but he needs the games and quickly.

Should Scotland go for the attacking and new approach of play, with Laidlaw at 10 and perhaps Nick De Luca at 12 and Max Evans at 13? Or try to grind out a win against an inexperienced England with Dan Parks, Graeme Morrison and perhaps Sean Lamont? This style of play has not been working but it may against England.
Josh Hood, Scotland

Hi Josh, I'm as intrigued as all Scots must be to see what direction Andy Robinson goes with selection. I'm pretty sure Ansbro would have started but he is injured now. He needs a hard runner to really test out Hodgson and Farrell. Scotland will win if they play with intensity, and without making their usual mistakes.

What do you think of Ireland coach Declan Kidney's ultra conservative squad selection? Do you think it is detrimental to pick players like D'Arcy when he won't be around in 2015 while the likes of O'Malley, McFadden, Spence, Cave et al.
Bernard, Ireland

Hi Bernard, I still like the look of the Irish team and understand Kidney's conservatism; he sees winning the next game as the most important factor in getting momentum towards the next RWC. I'm sure if D'Arcy is selected and doesn't perform, Kidney will make the changes.

Mr Guscott, do you agree with Graham Henry saying that England play a fearful game of rugby by playing 'possession rugby' rather than 'quick ball running rugby' and are wasting talented players by not teaching forwards (among other players) the importance of getting quick ball?
John, England

Hi John, I agree with Henry to a point but we don't have the luxury of no relegation domestic rugby where the player's skills and understanding of the game can be developed. We play quite a bit of our season in muddy sticky conditions where it's very difficult to produce quick ball. I'm not defending our league or players, because they are predominately conservative in their play. However that's dictated by the need to stay up and not be relegated and until that changes the majority of English teams and players will remain the same. An example would be Harlequins, playing a fantastic brand of rugby, top of the league, but didn't make the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup. Quins play an exciting brand of rugby and until they win a big trophy, their philosophy is unlikely to be followed. New Zealand play a very exciting brand of rugby but have only just won the World Cup after 24 years of waiting to do it again.

Hello Jeremy. As a Sale fan, I am sure the loss of loose-head prop Andrew Sheridan to Toulon will be a blow morally to the club and his destructive scrummaging ability will be sorely missed. However, following his seemingly endless injury streak, do you believe the Sharks have let Andrew go at the right time, or have they made a mistake in letting a player go who could come back to be the world beater he once was?
Chris, England

Hi Chris, bottom line is Sale have done OK without him but could possibly do more with him so he will be missed. He's had some tough breaks with injuries and I guess he wants a bit of a fresh start, to get some sun on his back and be part of a huge squad which means he won't be needed for all games, and get paid top dollar for doing half the graft.

With the retirement of Shane Williams who was so often the crucial bit of flair the Wales backline needed, who do you think is now the man to take over the reins?
Owen, Wales

Hi Owen, there's enough quality in the Welsh backline for another talisman to emerge and take the stage. Look at how George North did in the RWC, Jamie Roberts has found out he can be consistent and do the job. Leigh Halfpenny is a brilliant talent and don't forget Rhys Priestland when he comes back to fitness. That's only the backs but there's a few more in the pack; someone will emerge, they have to.

Everyone keeps saying that Italy have no backs and are not a threat! Look at the try scorers last season...mostly backs! Also they should have won against the Irish and the Welsh, which would have given a completely different perspective! This year with Brunel, Bergamasco will not be Kicking! Burton or Orquera will. Look at their kicking stats! Surely they are the dark horses!
Richard, Germany

Italy made some impressive progress under Nick Mallet, now that he has left do you think that Italy will continue to get stronger and have more of an influence on the outcome of the Six Nations?
Tim, London

Hi Richard and Tim, ifs and buts don't cut it in the Six Nations but I hope Italy do get better and push most teams close. Italy have beaten France, Wales and Scotland in the tournament and they have had the opportunities to beat England and Ireland so it's possible, they need to be more consistent. With only two games at home they will find it tough but should be looking forward to all games. Italy are a bit like the smaller nations in the 2011 RWC. In a one-off game they can do well but over a longer period of intensity their shortcomings are more exposed. I don't believe the fly-half situation gets any better with Burton or Orquera; however if their kicking stats are good then they will stand a better chance.

Don't know if you have answered this previously but who were your least favourite opponents individually and collectively?
Allan MacDonald, United Kingdom

Hi Allan, New Zealand always caused problems because they were so good in pretty much every position. They had few weaknesses and nothing has changed there! Tim Horan and Jason Little, along with Frank Bunce and Walter Little, were hard to handle. Phillippe Sella was individually hard to beat, his defence was awesome.

Follow Jerry on Twitter: @JeremyGuscott

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see also
England's Sheridan to join Toulon
24 Jan 12 |  Sale
Wales urged to pick wing Cuthbert
30 Jan 12 |  Welsh
Saxons pair in Six Nations squad
30 Jan 12 |  Rugby Union
Convert Tomkins bags debut brace
30 Jan 12 |  Saracens
Saxons 23-17 Wolfhounds
28 Jan 12 |  English
Twelvetrees signs Gloucester deal
28 Jan 12 |  Gloucester
Gloucester 40-3 Cardiff Blues
28 Jan 12 |  Rugby Union
Scarlets 27-19 London Irish
28 Jan 12 |  Rugby Union
Eight-week ban for Tigers' Young
27 Jan 12 |  Leicester
Prop Thomas has heart operation
28 Jan 12 |  Scarlets
Wales call-up for fly-half Jones
27 Jan 12 |  Welsh
Tomkins set to make Sarries debut
27 Jan 12 |  Saracens
Ospreys 26-21 Dragons
28 Jan 12 |  Welsh
South Africa name Meyer as coach
27 Jan 12 |  Rugby Union

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