Experts' view: Youngs is England's most dynamic hooker

Peter Winterbottom (England 1982-93, 58 caps + 7 Lions)

Who will win the Six Nations?

My heart says England but my head says France. It may be too soon for England, although they did well on a lot of levels to win in France last year, and the coaching looks good. But they must go to Ireland, where we often come a cropper. Wales are in too much disarray.

Your favourite Six Nations memory?

Winning the Grand Slam at home to France in 1991 was great. But my favourite memories were any time we played France in Paris. We went through the 1980s with little success but gradually started to get it right against the French.

What would you love to change?

The scrum needs sorting: constant collapsing and referees guessing their decisions. In the old days, you'd hold it for two seconds, then it was ball in straight, "channel one", job done. It used to be about technique. Now enormous props are primed to get a bit hit and keep it going. There are bound to be collapses.

Who to watch from your country?

Tom Youngs, as I'm not sure England have ever had so dynamic a hooker. Maybe Steve Thompson, while Brian Moore and Peter Wheeler were technically very good. But Youngs is a hell of a scrummager, he looks like he's sorted out his line-out, he knows how to run wide and tackle, and he's a little rocket of a ball-carrier.

Who should captain the Lions?

Brian O'Driscoll – if he hits form now. He has Manu Tuilagi chasing at his heels for his position. Jamie Heaslip is a dark horse, and it's rubbish to say the captain can't be English. If Chris Robshaw or Tom Wood is the best man, give it to him.

Be tough on props looking for big hits

John Hayes (Ireland 2000-11, 105 caps + 2 Lions)

Who will win the Six Nations?

Ireland. They start in Cardiff, where a lot of Irish players have happy memories with Leinster and Munster as well as the Grand Slam in 2009. Everyone needs luck with injuries, and Wales haven't had much. All you can go on is autumn form, and England and Ireland finished well.

Your favourite Six Nations memory?

My first appearance, which was also my first cap – against Scotland in 2000. A few of us made our debuts because Ireland had been hammered by England in the match before.

What would you love to change?

The scrum. The way it is now, with so many collapses in the engagement, it's turning people against the scrum, which as a prop I find shocking. It would save it if they went back to the old way: slow engagement, then a push. They need to get away from the props looking for the big hit.

Who to watch from your country?

Simon Zebo. He's just scored a second hat-trick for Munster in the Heineken Cup, he looks in great form, fit and confident and racking up the tries, as any winger wants to. There's an expectancy when he gets the ball and he seems to feed off that.

Who should captain the Lions?

Brian O'Driscoll or Paul O'Connell. Whichever of them is fully fit, I'd guarantee he would do a good job.

Summer rugby is quicker and more entertaining

Martyn Williams (Wales 1996-2012, 100 caps + 4 Lions)

Who will win the Six Nations?

France. I watched them against the Australians in the autumn and they were awesome – Frédéric Michalak played very well at fly-half - and they have such strength in depth.

Your favourite Six Nations memory?

Wales's Grand Slam game against Ireland in 2005. It was 27 years since Wales had won it, and we were part of a group who didn't know what success was like. We had lost 10 matches in a row not long before.

What would you love to change?

Bring in summer rugby. It would make the game quicker and more entertaining, and improve our chances against the southern hemisphere. Look at games in Wales over Christmas – they were trying to sell a product on quagmires.

Who to watch from your country?

Jonathan Davies at centre. Over the 2011 World Cup and 2012 Grand Slam he didn't get the profile of Sam Warburton, Jamie Roberts and Leigh Halfpenny, but he is as important as anybody. When he was missing last autumn, the back line was far from perfect. A class act.

Who should captain the Lions?

Brian O'Driscoll. Paul O'Connell was immense in 2009, the best captain I've worked under in the way he carried himself. But I'd go for Brian: he speaks well and is inspirational. And on what would be his fourth tour, he would be desperate to win a series for the first time.

I had a lot to do with encouraging Scotland

Gavin Hastings (Scotland 1986-95, 61 caps + 6 Lions)

Who will win the Six Nations?

Ireland – I think they will have a good year. Playing England and France at home will be a huge factor. Ulster are on fire, and Munster have made the Heineken Cup quarters too.

Your favourite Six Nations memory?

Scotland's win away to France in 1995. I scored a try near the end that proved the winner and I felt I had a lot to do with encouraging the team to believe we could win. Stronger sides had been there and lost, but I knew I wouldn't play there again and I felt if I played to my potential and the team did, we had a chance.

What would you love to change?

The breakdown. It's absolute chaos. It drives me insane when a scrum-half is about to pick the ball out and he gets clobbered by somebody who doesn't get penalised. Bring back rucking and you'd get rid of half the shenanigans within weeks. It must be a nightmare to referee.

Who to watch from your country?

Johnnie Beattie has come back into the squad after a good season with Montpellier. I've always rated him; he's got a good rugby brain. He could play No 8 or flanker – or he could come on as an impact player.

Who should captain the Lions?

Chris Robshaw – he has impressed me. A year ago he had one cap and his team won at Murrayfield. They have gone from strength to strength. Robshaw is playing regularly, which is not the case for some of the Irish. I'd add that if one team wins a Grand Slam it would be a massive drive forward for their captain.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital