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Know your enemy: English expectancy dips before big opening night

We asked the Blood and Mud blog to preview the Six Nations from England’s perspective. Here’s what he had to say.

LOOK AT YOU. You’re an intelligent, knowledgeable rugby-loving fan, we can tell. So you want to know about more than just what’s going on with Ireland. You want to know what you can expect from the five less important nations before you sit down to watch events unfold.

So, to let you know what the enemy is thinking, we asked English rugby blogger Lee Calvert of BloodandMud.com to let us know what the view’s like from over there.

Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree with Stuart Lancaster after the game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Cut to the chase: who will win the Six Nations?

Ireland – even without Sexton for some games, they should continue the Autumn form and progression under Schmidt, who is currently the most formidable coach in the championship.  They also have France at home, which helps.

Good answer. How are England keeping, happy campers?

The England camp is always happy under Stuart Lancaster.  In fact, anyone who is not happy is marked as a non-conformer and taken out and shot for not playing a full part in the The Positive Values Teamthink Revolution™.

At least the players will all be thinking positively when we go through yet another year of decent set pieces punctuated by stilted backplay that makes everyone watching want to scream.

The World Cup is on the way, England expects… etc. How is Lancaster coping?

Stuart Lancaster cuts a serene figure most of the time. So I don’t think pressure is an issue for him – and the fact that he’s been contracted until well into the next ice age – he is sitting pretty comfortably.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 99 - Quarter Final - South Africa v England Source: EMPICS Sport

He has to be worried about that group though [Fiji, Australia and Wales]: England going out of their own World Cup at the group stage would be a nightmare far worse than five Jannie De Beer drop goals.

What’s your biggest concern about that Sweet Chariot

The injuries [including Farrell, Wilson, Parling and Barritt], the lack of fast ball from breakdown and, for the 10th year in a row, that sodding midfield.

Also, James Haskell because he’s James Haskell.

Who is your key man?

George Ford is the key, but it will only work if he gets people running off him, which brings me back to my previous point about stilted back play.

Rugby Union - Aviva Premiership - Gloucester Rugby v Bath Rugby - Kingsholm Stadium Source: Joe Giddens

He’s the most talented footballer in the country, though he can have meltdowns in some games – much like the 2010-12 Johnny Sexton vintage.

With the World Cup coming, he needs a consistent Six Nations.

From any country, which player will be a surprise package?

SAMSON LEE!  The Golden Justice Dispenser. The mighty rock upon which all of Welsh existence and culture will be built for eternity.

Which game are you looking forward to most of all?

Despite being English, I’m most looking forward to Wales vs Ireland.  Should be a humdinger with the ball in play a lot.

Follow Blood and Mud on Twitter @BloodandMud and go read more from him on BloodandMud.com

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