This week we take a peek from behind the clothesline to stare at some possible performers in this year’s 6 Nations 2013
Ireland (Neil) – Simon Zebo
It is hard to pick one player to watch, so I am going to be cheeky and pick one player and one member of management.
For me, we need to keep our eyes on Simon Zebo. As much as it hurts me to pick a Munster player in this instance, he is very hard to ignore. Zebo was the spark that ignited a dreary looking Munster in their last Heineken cup pool game. The mass intake of air when he got the ball reminded me of Simon Geoghan years ago and still happens with Drico gets the ballet feet working. Wales really do not know what is coming for them in Zebo.
We need to keep an eye on Kidney too. The redder his face gets, the more likely we are to see Paddy Wallace back on the pitch!!
Wales (Dave) – Dan Biggar
In looking at Wales, I have discounted November international form because let’s be honest, that’s how everyone in Wales would want it! Biggar has played some great rugby for Ospreys this season and with over 1200 minutes and 166 points has proved vital in moving them in to a top four spot in the Rabo Pro 12. The other contender for the Outhalf slot, James Hook has been playing well in France but can prove unreliable. At 23 years of age and with 11 international caps to his name you feel this is the time for Biggar to step up and stake a claim on the 10 jersey which Priestland has held on to for what seems like an eternity. A good reader of the game, Biggar can find his mark and organise the backline, and at over 6ft is a powerful runner, something of a prerequisite if you are to play in the Welsh back line these days. It’s going to be an interesting 6 Nations for the Welsh and I have a feeling Biggar will bplay a big part. It’s also worth keeping an eye on Toby Faletau and Justin Tipuric.
France (Neil) – Mathieu Bastareaud
I am not allowed to pick the whole French team here, so I will pick Mathieu Bastareaud. The man is a beast of a centre. Whilst he has had some mental problems in the past, if he gets his mind right, he is a frightening prospect for any opposition.
If I had the ball and was sitting in my jeep, I still wouldn’t feel safe with Bastareaud charging at me.
England (Dave) – Joe Marler
A product of the Quinns academy and a near ever present in the first team this season, Marler would appear to have everything the modern English rugby player should have. Big and abrasive (ask Connacht), he fits the Lancaster mould. With only five international caps to his name, he might seem like an odd choice but he has so far repaid the faith shown in him. He has represented England at all age levels and will have benefited from the influence of Graham Rowntree and positional battle with Alex Corbisero (who is out injured). At 6ft he is not the biggest prop in the world however he has mobility and ability in the loose that is similar to Cian Healy. Expect big runs and big hits, he will look to make yards and draw defenders in the open. The chap can also scrummage apparently, which is always a bonus. Also worth keeping an eye on the brilliantly named Joe Launchbury at Lock.
Scotland (Neil) – Sean Maitland
I did ask Dave if I could not pick a Scottish player and pick another Irish player instead, but I was denied. With a new coach and some young players debuting, I am going to pick the debuting winger Sean Maitland. The kiwi winger might have the positive trait of not playing for Scotland before. He hasn’t seen the lackluster/awful performances that the other players have. This may allow him to play without the weight of these previous performances…
Italy (Dave) – Sergio Parisse
Sergio Parisse must surely be considered the greatest Italian rugby player to date. I did however look to feature someone such as Gonzalo Canale as one to watch, the problem is I don’t think he will see the ball. For all their gradual improvements Italy are still a team forced to over rely on their forwards who beat the be jaysus out of teams, eventually win the ball before giving it to their backs who knock it on in a comical fashion, followed by everyone running out of steam. Undoubtedly Parisse will be his usual dynamic and aggressive self, stealing ball, making hits and making you wish he could play for the Lions. Also worth keeping an eye on a multitude of Italian backs you never heard of for some epic fails.
And finally, see below our predictions for the possible overall winner:
Neil: I am picking France to win, not really surprising there. But I am picking them to win with a bonus point victory over Scotland in the final game. Pipping Ireland to the title.
Dave: Oooh, that sounds awful! I too am going to go for France, however I think England will be their main contenders with Ireland having being left in the dust long before the final whistle.
Feel free to comment on any of the above or give us a shout at @nkeegan and @dbkinch