Owain tell all of us about what we can expect
from Wales this year? Well Wales come into the tournament with stability
being the watch word. Warren Gatland is coming into eighth Six Nations tournament. The ninth
was actually Rob Howley kind of he took them into the 2013 Six Nations. And they’re a
squad with over a thousand caps. The nucleus, I think the average age is around 26-27. It’s
not too old but hugely experienced. You know the pack picks itself. You’ve got Toby Faletau,
Dan Lydiate if he’s fit now. Sam Warburton.
That’s over 150 caps in the backrow just to pick. I mean most fans outside fans outside
Wales could pick the Wales side. The big question for Wales is if they can maybe play with a
bit more width, you know a bit more expansive rugby, maybe a bit more evasive rugby. Saw
George North has bemoaned his kind of lack of opportunities for Northampton himself.
And if it’s Alex Cuthbert or Tom James I think they’d like to see the ball more.
I think that they were exposed at the World Cup. They were injured but they didn’t manage
get over the try line and I think a little bit
of kind X factor, Liam Williams is key to them. He gives a little bit of unpredictability.
That’ll be key to them cos of defensively they are absolutely superb. You know, Sean
Edwards, that was one of their kind of best signings shall we say, after post World Cup.
Brilliant. Let’s move on to Jamie. Tell us how Scotland are looking for this tournament
cos there was a rugby World Cup quarter final. Yeah, well I think one of the most interesting
things for Scotland in this tournament is gonna be how they bounce back from that crushing
disappointed of the way they went out of the World Cup. I think you could make a strong
argument that they, compared to all the other Six Nations teams, they arguably were the
most successful compared to their pre-tournament kind of expectations. The Six Nations for
Scotland fans always I think brings with it a kind of, certainly over the last few years
has brought with it a sense of optimism which unfortunately has proved misplaced.
[laugh] …in the last few years. But I think after
that World Cup and with Vern Cotter at the helm, I think he’s really kind of changed
their outlook on how they play. And so much for Scotland in this Six Nations is gonna
be about the top two inches. About whether they really believe that they can do it. They’ve
undoubtedly got the talent. They’ve got a brilliant back row. They’ve got some really
exciting backs for the first time in a long time. So really it’s just a case of whether
Cotter can get them to fully believe that they’re good enough to be you know in with
a fighting shot of winning it. Good stuff. Lynne, how about Ireland’s prospects?
Defending champs of course. So reigning champions from last Six Nations
which I think was we were all very hopeful of their performance in the Six Nations or
in the World Cup and we all know how that went. So I think the overriding feeling post…being
Irish post World Cup is disappointment probably similar to a lot of the Six Nations countries.
So what does Schmidt do? Does he change what he’s doing? I would hope he does from
the point of view to just reinvigorate Ireland because I know that we’ve got more talent
there. I know that we can play better when when I think of that, I think of the back
line and the creativity that’s available there but we’re not actually producing I
don’t think. Or does he keep it stable. We’ll see I think a lot of it comes down
to the leadership and what’s gonna happen there. Obviously Paul O’Connell injured
and retired and Rory Best has stepped up to the plate. That was a player led selection
I believe which is a really positive thing. I think Rory is an
excellent player, I think, I believe his behaviours on and off the pitch are exemplary which is
fab. Do I think that he is the new shining light of what Ireland need to be? I don’t
think so. But I think that we need stability going into this next Six Nations.
Brilliant. Charlie? So England’s build ups been primarily about
one man Eddie Jones and how he’s gonna take over from Stuart Lancaster. What I think we’ve
already seen for all of the wise cracks is that that actually is gonna incite a hell
of a lot of confidence and conviction in players. And the thing that really went wrong with
England during the World Cup was the clarity about how they were gonna play.
He’s spoken about pressure. And again it’s a sound byte. But what he’s said is that
when you know what you’re doing there isn’t any pressure because that is, it’s kind
of coming from within. And I think he’ll be a standard driver, he’ll really challenge
players. And I think there’s enough talent within that squad, that it’ll come out and
they’ll be enhanced by these games. Good stuff. Let’s hear about Le Bleu from
Mr Coles? Yeah actually, very exciting in a way. I don’t
think we’ve felt excited about France for quite a long time but now that Philippe Saranghae
has gone, if we look back on those four years as a whole, really wasn’t a lot to shout
about. Of course they got the wooden spoon a few years ago as well in the Six Nations.
And now Guy Noves has come in just at the right time to kind of try and to get France
going again and get people excited about the French national team in France which hasn’t
happened for a long, a long time. And especially when you ask them about their last game which
it was of course that thrashing from New Zealand in the World
Cup quarter final. What we’ve got now is a lot of elderly players who have retired.
Some arguably past their best. Like Pascal Pape. They are gonna miss Nicolas Mas. They
are really gonna miss Thierry Dusautoir. I think the tournament as a whole will miss
Dusautoir after all he’s given over the years. He’s such an icon. But the players
who are coming in, these young forwards and these young backs, I’m thinking of guys
like Camille Chat and Paul Jedrasiak and the young props as well. And Yacouba Camara from
Toulouse. These are really talented athletes who are…who
are gonna add a bit of a spark to that French pack and I think we’re gonna see a really
imposing France eight again which we haven’t had quite as much as, in recent years. I think
they’re really gonna dictate the games. Especially in the Six Nations. And out wide,
if, I’m gonna try and avoid clichés but if they can click we know what they can do
and I think it’s a really important tournament for the likes of Jules Plisson, the young
fly half, if he can take that shirt and make it his own
brilliant. And there’s a very exciting young centre, Jonathan Danty from Stade Francais
who I’m expecting huge things from. Real talent, really has a lot to give. So yeah,
there’s lots of reason for optimism. Certainly. I can tell you a little bit about
Italy’s outlook. 10 wooden spoons in 16 years is I think the general headline that
everyone’s used to with the Azuri. Two fourth place finishes, 2007 and 2013. But fifth place
finish last year. 10 new caps into the side or into the squad in Jacques Brunel’s final
effort with the Six Nation championship. Of course plenty of whispers as to whether Connor
O’Shea will be appearing on Italian soil any time soon. And I think
part of the story for Italy this time round is you now the way that schedule falls as
well, away to France, Ireland and Wales, doesn’t make it too easy for them. They’re at home
to the likes of England and Scotland and then you know you’re looking at what traditionally
or over the last few years has been that wooden spoon battle against the Scots. But you know
you can shake your Jamie and we certainly hope that the tournament does start to change
and certainly for Scottish fortunes cos I think you know that that makes the championship
more exciting. But yeah it’s certainly gonna be I think another
struggle for Italy but they’ve got…they’ve got quite a few decent performers in there.
They’ve still got the likes of Alessandro Zanni, they’ve still got the Talisman who
is, Sergio Parisse. I think talisman Sergio Parisse and talisman Picomoles are probably
the sort of two… …European rugby players where that prefix
applies. But they are without Andrea Masi, whose go the Achilles injury and I think he
can be quite advantageous to them. And they’ve still got their ever, ever ongoing problem
without a decent fly half since Diego Dominguez. And there’s been Kelly Haimona doing what