Thursday, February 2, 2017

Six Nations 2017: England

Last year
Undefeated. A full calendar of victories in 2016 meant a Championship, Grand Slam, Triple Crown, Calcutta Cup and seven test victories. They enter the tournament as bookies favourite for good reason and are the team to beat.


Coach
Australian Eddie Jones hit the ground running as England head coach and remains unbeaten. After the humiliation of crashing out of their own World Cup he has restored pride to England and this year will be his chance to make them a World force again.

Captain
Questions were asked as to whether Dylan Hartley should be captain going into this year's competition with a disciplinary record that has seen him spend more than a calendar year suspended. He has been exemplary with the armband in the white of England however, and gives them the right kind of bite on the field.

Star player
Despite Eddie Jones' assertions that England have no world classes players yet, they have plenty who are close. Owen Farrell finds himself in a rich vein of form and his creativity from 12 allows England's backs to play at pace and - especially now that bonus points are on offer - that could prove to be vital to England. 

One to watch 
With the big ball carrying Vunipola brothers out, young Nathan Hughes may have to take on the role Billy V has left. He’s shown he is more than capable, but is capability on the biggest stage may have a bearing on how England perform.

Strengths
A squad deeper than the Mariana Trench and, even with some big names missing, they have plenty of talent to call upon. On the back of 14 straight wins, confidence is high and they are getting their swagger back.

Weaknesses 
Injuries have ravaged their backrow and set pieces haven’t always been their strong point. 

Prediction
Ireland in Dublin on the final day will real test the mettle of the young guns if the title (and possibly Grand Slam) is on the line. England fans will have seen it slip away too many times in the past and Ireland will be a real tough test this time around.


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