Six Nations: The storylines to watch out for this weekend
It feels like an age since the Autumn fixtures, but finally we have some mega international rugby on our hands once again. After weeks and months of preparation and planning, England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, France and Italy will reveal their hands over the next 48 hours.
But what will we learn as Monday comes around?
Here are the big questions this weekend…
Will England kick off their defence in style?
All eyes are on Eddie Jones’ men, and rightly so.
The Red Rose bagged the Grand Slam last year, and ended 2016 with a perfect 13 wins from 13.
But injuries have threatened to derail the reigning champions this year. They may have been offered a minor reprieve, with a home clash versus France to kick-off their defence.
A dominant win at Twickenham will lay down a marker, but equally, defeat could blow this spring’s tournament wide open.
Will Scotland come good on their Dark Horses tag?
Plenty of people in the know are fancying Scotland to make an impression this year. The Tartan Army impressed in the Autumn internationals, and gave Australia a real run for their money.
A trio of fixtures at Murrayfield, added to a winnable clash in Paris offers plenty of hope for the Scots.
They open by welcoming Ireland to Edinburgh, and that offers an instant – albeit mightily tough – opportunity. A win would thrust Vern Cotter’s side firmly into contention, while similarly dashing the dreams of the Emerald Isle.
Can Wales avoid a slip up in Rome?
At 2/11 Wales are heavily fancied to open with a win in Italy, but Azzurri will be going all out to spring a surprise.
The Italians will be heading into this full of confidence have claimed a historic first ever win over South Africa in the Autumn.
There’s every reason to believe this won’t be as one-sided as the betting might suggest.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing