- Wales have looked the strongest team so far in the first two rounds
- Eddie Jones’ use of England’s young players has been exemplary management
- Involving nations like Georgia in the competition could be a welcome addition to the Six Nations
Following the first two rounds of the Six Nations, who do you think is showing the best form to go on and win the Championship?
If you look at all of the games so far, the team that stands out for me would be Wales. Obviously France and England still have the chance to win the Grand Slam but I just feel Wales are too strong. Having seen their last performance against Scotland, the last thirty minutes were just so dominant.
Scotland were admittedly architects of their own demise once again. Having had a stellar first sixty minutes, they harked back to that pressure of the World Cup and just showed that they don't understand how to execute under pressure. A lack of communication between Gray and Laidlaw essentially cost them the game.
England have shown some really good glimpses. Worryingly though, the line outs were appalling for sixty minutes of the game against Italy, and I know that's something that Steve Borthwick prides himself on. Whether he's not had enough time or it's been a case of information overload – to miss as many as they did is really poor on the international stage.
There really is a lot for England to get right if they're going to beat Ireland and Wales, though I do think they'll beat Joe Schmidt's men this Saturday.
What development can you see in Eddie Jones' England side and when does the honeymoon period end for the new head coach?
The best development has been the use of the bench and in-form players, which is something the previous management team found difficult to do. Eddie backed off playing Itoje and other guys in the opening game, but the way he used them in the Italy match really gave them confidence - a really clever piece of management. There was a huge demand from the media to see these young guys but Jones quite rightly just picked a side for Scotland to get the win, and then against Italy, we saw guys like Jamie George, Jack Clifford and Maro Itoje come on and impact the game positively.
For me, Itoje needs to start after his involvement in making a turnover at the lineout, two turnovers at the breakdown, carrying strongly, as well as offering another line out option. A back row consisting of him, James Haskell and Billy Vunipola would be a really exciting opportunity.
Eddie Jones has come in and said he expects results so I think in terms of honeymoon period, it ended the moment he took over. He inherited a strong squad and he has the opportunity to strengthen it even more with some exciting young and in-form players coming through. We should expect England to contest the Six Nations and if they don't win it or finish strongly then we should be disappointed.
Ireland's Joe Schmidt has commented that with just one point from two games, their tilt at the title is a "long shot" and it might present them with a chance to "blood a few new guys". Given its history and the national rivalries within it, is the Six Nations an arena in which teams can afford to experiment?
I think the autumn internationals are a better time to be really trying out new players. If you're doing it during the Six Nations then you're definitely in a bad spot and almost admitting defeat. Perhaps Joe has said what he's said to take the pressure off his players – we'll see!
It's certainly an uphill struggle for Ireland isn't it? To change things now, you do risk the chance of completely capitulating. I'm all for giving new players their chance but I don't think it should be when you're on a downward curve.
Over the years, we've seen the great sides make changes, but only when they're on the way up – New Zealand, Australia, and England under Clive Woodward. The changes Eddie Jones made for that game against Italy were understandable and very practical. It was a very sensible approach.
A recent poll in a Georgian newspaper has confirmed rugby as the country's most popular sport (with 50.4% of the vote). Do you think the Six Nations should include promotion and relegation to a second tier competition?
I 100% do. It would mean that teams have to fight tooth and nail for survival and we'll hopefully end up with matches like the last weekend of the Six Nations last year where it's all to play for and everyone's desperate to get points. More weekends like that would be better for the whole game.
Ultimately we want rugby to develop around the world. The recent Rugby World Cup showed us how far some of the so called 'minnow nations' have progressed and so I think relegation and promotion would be a great opportunity for some of those other nations to prove they can compete.
Just look how far Argentina have come having been involved in the Rugby Championship. For Scotland and Italy, if they know they have another nation competing for that bottom spot, it'll really push them to perform better and in turn bring those lower tier nations up as well.
I also think bonus points would make for a much more exciting competition, though obviously if you do win the Grand Slam, it should go hand in hand that you win the title.