I’ve been receiving lots of questions over the last few weeks, here are my answers to some of the longer ones!
Including how England look with 18 months to go until RWC, has this Welsh team peaked, who is Clive Woodward’s protégé in World Rugby and a few thoughts on Sam Burgess…
In the 2002 Six Nations, with 18 months until the 2003 World Cup, England finished second having lost one match – to France. Where do you see this current England team 18 months before a World Cup compared to that team in 2002?
This current England team is not too dissimilar. The loss to France in 2002 played a huge role in us winning the World Cup. We realised from that game that we needed more than just a Plan A. All our defeats helped us in the build-up. In 1999 at Wembley, Scott Gibbs taught us the importance of taking points and our match in Murrayfield told us about playing the weather! All our defeats helped us!! Honestly!!
Has this current crop of Welsh players peaked too soon and are the other northern hemisphere teams starting to gain ground?
Wales definitely need a big game against France. They struggled against Ireland and confidence is tough to turn on and off like a tap! They are clearly tired post-Lions but Wales can still beat the best, they just need to turn their current form around soon so previous big wins don’t become a distant memory.
Clive Woodward was credited with introducing a cutting-edge approach to the sport in terms of preparation, strategy, training and sport science that was considered ahead of its time. What current management system in world rugby is pushing the boundaries in the same way?
I really like what Stuart Lancaster is doing with this England team but he is one of several coaches who are doing some great work. I’m a big fan of the welsh fitness programme which is paying obvious dividends, I’m enjoying what Hansen is doing with New Zealand and don’t underestimate Joe Schmidt, he is very very canny. Ultimately, all the top sides are doing stuff they aren’t telling us about!
There are rumours of Sam Burgess joining Rugby Union – do you think there is enough time for him to make the 2015 England team and who do you consider to be the most successful Rugby League convert?
It would be awesome to see Sam try our game, he would undoubtedly be an absolute unit to stop! The most successful convert? The one and only Jason Robinson, a legend of our time. The greatest player we have ever had?? He has a good claim on it.