Though it may be dark, cold and very much winter right now, spring is on the way. And of course, that means the latest Six Nations championship is rolling ever nearer.
Eddie Jones’ England head into the defence of their 2016 Grand Slam as 4/5 favourites, and that’s little surprise given the incredible form of the Red Rose.
The former Australia coach has lead England to 13 straight wins, completing a perfect 2016 in the process.
And with victory over Uruguay back in the 2015 World Cup, It’s now 14-wins on the spin.
But there’s hope yet for Wales, France and Ireland.
Earlier this week Manu Tuilagi was ruled out of the Championships with yet another injury, while both Mako and Billy Vunipola are on the sidelines for the start of the tournament.
Wasps’ Joe Launchbury is also absent for the opener with France, while concerns remain over each of Chris Robshaw, George Kruis and James Haskell.
Those absentees could be most felt when Jones leads his side to Cardiff and Dublin.
The Tasmanian-born coach remains optimistic however, stating that the injury list merely creates an opportunity to further England’s depth of talent.
“For 2017 we are going to be missing potentially four of the starting pack, but we got through November without seven front-line players. So it’s a great opportunity, exciting,” the England coach said.
Ireland lead the challengers at 5/2 to win a third Six Nations in four years.
And the Emerald Isle will have been buoyed by their famous win over New Zealand in the Autumn, ending the Kiwis’ 18-game winning run.
Further good news for the Shamrock nation is that Johnny Sexton should be fully fit for the spring campaign.
However, second row Ultan Dillane is set to miss the clashes with Scotland and Italy.
Wales come next at 5/1, but like England, face their own injury concerns.
The Dragons are dealing with a range of injuries, comebacks and general niggles involving at least 12 players.
And in the dozen are George North, Jonathan Davies and Taulupe Faletau.
And Wales’ most experienced man Gethin Jenkins will miss the Championships altogether through injury.
France lead the outsiders at 12/1, but their hopes pin on what they can achieve at Twickenham and Dublin.
On paper this should be England’s tournament, but this year’s Championship could be decided in the physio rooms.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing