In your opinion, who was the stand out player from last season?
Owen Farrell was magnificent as a young man stepping up to the plate, filling King Jonny’s shoes and single handedly pulling us through some tight away games at the Start of the 6 Nations. I thought Chris Robshaw was outstanding all season – an engine like Mo Farah and tough as old boots, brilliant leadership. I think Dan Cole is now a serious contender to get a Lions jersey in tight head prop position, improving with every game.
Which team do you see as a huge threat throughout the Premiership and Heineken Cup?
Premiership – I expect the big 4 to be battling it out again – Quins, Leicester, Saracens and Saints. Quins are a young side and fear no one but it is always tough to win back-to-back titles. Saints will come back with a charge after a year they will think was only average. Saracens are always so difficult to beat and with a back 3 of Strettle, Ashton and Goode could be lethal and with Charlie H pulling strings. However, in a year without a World Cup I still think if you want to guarantee a team in next years’ final at Twickenham, it has to be power of Leicester.
Heineken cup – I hope Clermont make it this time; a brilliant semi-final versus Leinster saw them just knocked out and Fofana in midfield is electric. I suspect Leinster are pretty keen to do the treble… Leicester will go close, Toulouse are lethal and hopefully Quins will fair better this time round. This is an awesome tournament and a mugs game trying to pick a winner unless you are from Dublin, in which case 3 out of last 4 years has been easy money!
Are there any specific players we should watch out for?
Joe Marler to keep stepping up and pushing for a Lions tour spot, with Jonathan Joseph hopefully getting the chance and a run of games in England midfield.
How do you feel about the re-evaluation of laws for the coming season?
The game always has to look at itself and keep moving forward, not simply to keep the pace of the game high but to iron out faults or areas of concern.
Do you believe they will have a substantial impact on play?
No – I think they are well thought out moves by a section of top class referees and coaches who understand areas that can improve our game, keep our attendances rising and with it, the quality of rugby on show.
The season has also seen a new set of commands for the scrum being trialled. Do you feel that reducing the number of commands is necessary/ from 4 to 3 will both lower the number of collapses and increase player safety?
Ask a prop – I hated scrums!!! Clearly there was an issue with the number of collapsed scrums and infringements for engagement at scrum time – anything that makes the contest fairer and cleaner with fewer resets has to be welcomed.