Six Nations: New era for England but the Welsh are tipped to succeed
AFTER their World Cup campaign ended in disappointment, England will be hoping to stamp their authority on the 2012 RBS Six Nations tournament that starts today. LIAM WOOD spoke to some local rugby personalities, for their thoughts ahead of the action.
OLLIE Cole, Market Rasen & Louth captain.
"ENGLAND struggled at the World Cup, but there now seems to be fresh ideas in the squad with all these younger players coming into the side.
"They have had problems, but I still wouldn't write them off.
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"As much as it pains me to say, I think it will be difficult to look past the Welsh for the title.
"If you look at their form in the World Cup, and the players they have, they will be hard to beat. I think you have to say they are favourites.
"But, you can't look past the French, either. As always, it would be difficult to write them off on the big stage."
SIMON Weller: Grimsby 1st XI captain
"I THINK England can do really well, actually. With all the younger blood coming through they have a chance to do well.
"After getting to the World Cup final, France will also be in with a shout but, to be honest, with regards to the other countries I don't really care.
"It's all about England for me. The younger players coming through will hopefully use the tournament to get stronger as a team.
"I think the players that can have a fresh impact in the competition are all English players. So for me its England, or maybe Ireland, they have a chance, too."
Verdict: England or Ireland
NEIL Corry, Grimsby 1st XI
"EVERYONE wants England to do well, providing they are English of course.
"But, I think we need to be realistic. We need to rebuild and start with some younger players and start to rework the game plan.
"Honestly, though, Wales have the best chance of winning, along with France, but you never know if they are going to turn up.
"I think you have to look at Wales. They are playing the best rugby and are the best team in the competition.
"They would have won in New Zealand at the World Cup if some of the big decisions had not gone against them."
NICK Dale, Grimsby 3rds inside centre
"THE best team equipped to win is Wales.
"They have a good front row and a good back row, and have a lot of players used to playing with each other on the international stage.
"England will have a lot of youth in their team and it's hard to instantly step up to that level.
"But England's first game today will be interesting.
"Stuart Lancaster (England's interim head coach) has done well bringing youth through with the Saxons.
"We should see a flowing game of rugby.
"With the likes of Jonny Wilkinson now out of the picture, we won't see the same tactical kicking game we are used to with England."
MATTY Searle: Cleethorpes 1st XI
"THERE have been a lot of retirements in the England squad, some very key and experienced players have now gone.
"It will be interesting to see how these younger players coming through perform. Hopefully they will play some exciting rugby.
"I think a lot of people will be backing Wales, especially after how they performed at the World Cup. They did very well at that tournament and will be good again.
"But, my tip is for the team who eventually got to the final of the World Cup, France.
"I have a funny feeling the French will take some beating – my grandfather is French, as well, so I have some connection there."