The Six Nations starts again tomorrow, with Grand Slam champions England defending the title they won in convincing fashion last year.
Who will win it this time, and how will Eddie Jones’ reigning champions fare? Here are what a few of rugby’s best pundits thinks…
Paul O’Connell: “I’d go for Ireland. The last game against England at the Aviva makes them my favourite.”
Keith Wood: “I expect Ireland to win. It is the right cycle of games for them, their confidence is high and the provinces are doing well in Europe.”
Jonathan Davies: “It’s got to be Ireland. However, I don’t expect them to win the Grand Slam (winning all five of their matches), so bonus points – introduced this year – will be important.”
Jeremy Guscott: “Ireland are playing at a tempo and intensity that the rest of the Six Nations haven’t reached yet, and I expect them to win the championship.”
Andy Nicol: “The style that England play and their ability to score more tries and points make them my favourites to win the Six Nations on points difference – or bonus points – but with no Grand Slam.
Ian Herbert (Chief Sports Writer Independent): Despite the Irish threat, with Joe Schmidt’s players understandably buoyed by the win over the All Blacks in Chicago, it is impossible to see beyond Eddie Jones’ England side for what could be a third Grand Slam in the Six Nations era.
Mike Cleary (Guardian): Home advantage will be enough to bring home the booty for Ireland in the final game of the championship in Dublin on St Patrick’s weekend.
Joe Schmidt: England are Six Nations favourites, not my Ireland team
Alex Payne (Sky Sports): A pound on Scotland at 20/1, with a smash and grab in Paris and three home wins – finishing with a big victory over Italy. But the heavy money goes on England as champions at 5/6.
Stuart Barnes (The Times): England’s mental strength will see them to success in Cardiff, where Ireland may fail.
Ben Kay (The Times): England to win the title because their attacking style should suit the bonus-point system.