Six Nations 2016: Davies, Guscott, Wood and Nicol weigh things up
Last updated on .From the section Rugby Union
|RBS Six Nations|
|Dates: 6 February-19 March|
|Coverage: Live coverage of eight games on BBC One and BBC One HD. All of Scotland's matches live on BBC Radio Scotland, Ireland's on BBC Radio Ulster, and Wales' on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru. Live text and commentaries on BBC Sport website and app.|
It's going to be tight - but according to our panel of rugby greats, there's only going to be one winner of the 2016 Six Nations.
We've rounded up former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies, ex-England centre Jeremy Guscott, former Ireland hooker Keith Wood and ex-Scotland scrum-half Andy Nicol and asked them the questions you need to know the answers to.
So read on to find out what shape their national teams are in, who their players to watch are, if they think we'll get a repeat of 2015's epic final day - and which team they have all plumped for as 2016 champions.
|This weekend's live TV coverage|
|Sat, 6 Feb (14:25) France v Italy, BBC One|
|Sat, 6 Feb (16:50) Scotland v England, BBC One|
|Sun, 7 Feb (15:00) Ireland v Wales, ITV|
|Six Nations coverage on the BBC|
What shape is your nation in going into the tournament?
Jonathan Davies: Wales are in good shape. They've got a tough game to start with away to Ireland but they have a solid squad. They have a few players returning from injury and they are in a good position, they have that familiarity and now they need to find consistency.
Jeremy Guscott: Most, if not all, of England's players seem to be in very good form - the Northampton and Bath guys have had a bit of a rough ride but will enjoy the change of surroundings.
I would say they're going to play a territory-based game, with a good deal of kick, chase and defend, but all at a challenging tempo. They don't have any hefty backs to smash the gainline but they have some good pace to exploit quick ball and a scrambling defence.
Keith Wood: Ireland will go into the tournament feeling a bit battered and bruised, both physically and in terms of their confidence. They were thumped by Argentina in the World Cup quarter-finals and have also lost several players to injury.
Andy Nicol: Scotland are feeling pretty good after an encouraging World Cup but the key now is to kick on from that performance and win the tight games. There have been a few injuries to deal with as well as Glasgow's indifferent form this season - but Scotland are just about at full strength for that massive first game against England.
Who is your player to watch - and why?
JD: I'd like to see if Finn Russell can make Scotland tick from fly-half. He's got a confidence about him, he tries things all the time and he's what Scotland need to spark their backline - and if Scotland start scoring tries, they will be in the mix.
JG: I see England winger Anthony Watson improving further - eight tries in 15 games is a good record, but there's more to come. He's got a good stepping game combined with rapid acceleration, which means he is good in traffic as well as space.
KW: I'm really looking forward to seeing if England centre Jonathan Joseph can match his efforts from last season. He's quick, has great feet and can light things up out wide.
AN: It is great news that centre Mark Bennett is going to be fit as he has fast become such a key player for Scotland, offering such a potent attacking threat at 13. I hope centre Elliot Daly gets a run for England because he looks very exciting as well.
So who's going to win then?
JD: It is very tough to call. Looking at it in terms of strength in depth then England are favourites, but on form Wales are maybe favourites.
England only have two home games but if they win in Scotland they could get the confidence to go on to the title. The first two games are very, very important - England and Wales start as favourites but it's all about getting the first result.
JG: Wales have all the experience, they did well coping with all their injuries both before and during the World Cup, and I think they will take it on points difference.
The bulk of their team is incredibly experienced, and I'm looking forward to seeing Justin Tipuric play at open-side with Sam Warburton on the blind-side, because that gives Wales a huge advantage at the breakdown.
KW: I expect Wales to become champions in 2016. They are the most settled side and have the fewest major injuries to important players.
AN: I think Wales look slight favourites as they have the most settled squad on and off the pitch but it's really tight to call as there's lots of unknowns with the likes of England and France.
|Predicted 2016 Six Nations finishing order|
|Jonathan Davies||Jeremy Guscott||Keith Wood||Andy Nicol|
|Six Nations coverage on the BBC|
Will we see a round to match last year's epic final day?
JD: I think a lot of that was down to the good weather but everyone knew what they had to do, so the intent was there to go out and win and then rack up the points.
Historically it has been all about winning, but now the Six Nations is so competitive teams know the title may come down to points difference and that means they have to score tries. New Zealand and Australia showed how to do that in the World Cup and that's the difference - identifying chances and then taking them.
JG: There's every chance, because I think three teams will go into the last weekend with a shot at the title once again.
If every head coach had a developmental 'building towards each World Cup' attitude then more open rugby would be played, but it's still about winning and I agree with that - teams need to use their strengths to win each game as it comes.
KW: To be honest I don't think so because, with the exception of Scotland, I still think the Six Nations sides are all a bit too conservative.
AN: I hope we have a repeat of the quality of rugby we saw on the final day last year - it comes down to the attitude of the players and coaches.
It proved that if you are going out to score as many tries as possible then the games can be very entertaining, but if the mentality is to not lose, then this is when we can end up watching negative, defence-focused tactics and boring games. More of the former please!
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