Lewis Moody’s Six Nations Guide: Ireland can’t stop England making history – EXCLUSIVE | Rugby Union | Sport

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I am backing England to make history by winning a third successive Six Nations and while Ireland are being put forward as the biggest danger to Eddie Jones’s team, I cannot see them winning at Twickenham.

The Six Nations after a Lions tour is always intriguing because the players know so much more about each other – both strengths and weaknesses. It also makes the competition more exciting because they respect each other’s talents even more.


It seems crazy that for so many years the French have been so up and own with various coaches taking over and a new one starting in this championship, and they remain a danger – although I see England beating them in Paris.

The biggest stumbling block for England will be Scotland at Murrayfield – because it is a bloody awful place to play your rugby!

ENGLAND 

While I am confident of another title I don’t know if it will come with a Grand Slam. While Eddie Jones is missing ball carriers like Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes, their strength in depth is huge in England and I am excited to see how Sam Simmonds goes at No8. He plays like a centre with speed and footwork and brings something different.

There is no injury crisis for England and some of the missing men will be back during the championship to make the squad even stronger.

Player to watch: Sam Simmonds

Prediction: Winners

WALES

It is a real body blow to lose players like Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb, Rhys Priestland, Taulupe Faletau and Sam Warburton, which breaks the experienced link between the forwards and backs. They really need to win that first game against the Scots having been poor in recent seasons and they will be looking to the Scarlets players to provide some confidence.

I am more nervous for Wales than any other team because they cannot afford to start badly or suffer any more injuries. They still have experienced guys like Alun Wyn Jones to rely on in difficult situations.

Player to watch: Josh Navidi

Prediction: Fifth

SCOTLAND

Last season I was excited about seeing the Scots taking on England at Twickenham and there was genuine disappointment when they were taken apart. They had played much better than that and it came down to strength in depth and that remains a key factor with just two professional teams in Scotland.

They have quality coaches headed by Gregor Townsend and exciting backs who are prepared to take chances and run from deep, but if they don’t beat Wales the wheels might come off.

Player to watch: Stuart Hogg

Prediction: Third

IRELAND

The Irish have to go to Paris in their first match which is a really tough start and if they lose that one they definitely won’t beat England at Twickenham. Losing Sean O’Brien is very significant because he is a talisman and maybe I am writing their title hopes off at my peril, because they do still have very good players in their back row.

I do expect them to push England hardest in the championship and they did inflict that defeat on Eddie Jones last season.

Player to watch: Jonny Sexton

Prediction: Second

FRANCE

They have included Matthieu Jalibert, the young outside-half, in their squad and that is an exciting move, but he will be relying on the experience of Maxime Machenaud, the scrum half who is their most influential player. If he can stay fit then he could be very important because he controls the game so well and his kicking is also crucial.

There are so many distractions for the players in France at the moment and, hopefully, they can just concentrate on enjoying the Six Nations and deliver some quality performances.

Player to watch: Maxime Machenaud

Prediction: Fourth

ITALY

They have great coaches in Conor O’Shea and Mike Catt but they are going to finish bottom again without a win and that will, once again, ignite the debate over the question of should there be relegation to allow teams like Georgia, who are developing their game, a chance to play in the Six Nations.

Italy caused England problems at Twickenham last season and that tactic was sheer genius, but the bottom line is they are just not strong enough.

Player to watch: Sergio Parisse

Prediction: Sixth

Lewis Moody is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover has a heritage in rugby at all levels; from grassroots to elite, supporting the game for two decades. @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal



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