I am like a kid before Christmas at the moment waiting for this Six Nations to kickoff. What a tournament it is with such an amazing history and fierce rivalry. The fact this is a Lions year makes it to me just that bit more special as I think of all the mouth watering match ups there will be as players try to showcase their skills over their rivals.
For England my feeling is they have arrived at a very good place in that there is now genuine competition for places and a real depth to the squad. I think we can all name in most positions two contenders for the shirt and that is not where we were just over a year ago. Stuart Lancaster has done a fine job and with that historic win over New Zealand I am for the first time since retiring feeling envious of the lads running out at Twickenham!
As an ex prop my eye is drawn to the good front row union. We have a world class prop in Dan Cole plus two outstanding prospects in Marler and hooker Tom Youngs. However with the talented Alex Corbiserio to come back plus the hugely experienced Dylan Hartley and the human bowling ball Mako Vunipola on the bench again we have plenty of strength in depth.
What an opportunity for the wonderfully named Billy Twelvetrees who really doe sound like a character out of Lord of The Rings. For Billy it is no fantasy playing for England as he gets his first cap tomorrow playing outside the Owen Farrell and I for one can’t wait to see how he goes on his debut.
Our opponents tomorrow like last year are Scotland and for anyone expecting us to brush them aside it pays to know your history. Six Nations games are pretty tight generally and Scotland although not firing are coming very close. They have the help this year of the very canny tactician Dean Ryan who was coach at Gloucester and he will have an impact.
Wales have some incredible talent and if they can get everyone back and fit will be very hard to beat. Ireland is a bit under the radar but that will suit them and I still expect in this Lions year to see some amazing performances from them. As for our chums across the channel they are looking ominous. Their coach has coached in England and reports are he has bought a bit more discipline to the squad which allied to their flair and strength in the set piece makes them real contenders.
I am really lucky to be working with RBS the sponsors of the tournament so will be at all the England games and reporting back to you on my thoughts after the game. Let the show commence!