A first Guest Blogger!  Ryan Worley is a 29yr old Welshman living in Essex with his wife Kirsty and 6yr old son Lewys.  You can find him on Twitter on @RyanWorley86

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Well it’s that time of year again when men and women across the northern hemisphere read the back of paracetamol boxes trying to find the next excuse to use for their Monday morning “sickness bug”……..or should I say what excuse they dream up to hide their annual Six Nations Hangovers 🙂

I’ve dreamt up excuses myself…..even on a game day once…..but in my defence it was to watch our Grand Slam decider in 2005!!! That’s right I am Welsh, but that doesn’t mean I will be biased towards my team 🙂

Show me one Welshman / Englishman / Scotsman etc that wouldn’t have done the same thing to watch their team win a Grand Slam.

Anyway I digress for the real reason I am here……..to give my opinion on men to watch over the next few weeks and my view on these players won’t be the standard “this guy is a world beater” ie the Warburtons, Farrells, Fofanas, O’Briens of this world……it will be the unsung heroes, the lads who do all the donkey work and get no recognition for it and the outsiders in the squad who could play a huge role in their teams attempt at success this spring!

I am also going to give my opinion on what I think will happen over the next month or so and predict the final standings…..  So here goes…..

Scotland

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (22yrs old – 8 Caps – Scrum Half)

In my opinion on his day Hidalgo- Clyne is an outstanding rugby player. Not only does he have the pass all fly halves dream of, he has pace to burn and a great footballing brain. Sam will more than likely be used as an impact player off the bench for the scots after their great performance at the RWC but what have they got to lose, pick him from the start and who knows what they could achieve.
My pick for the tournament……even with my red hat on, I believe Scotland are the team to beat after their fantastic performance in the World Cup. Starting at home to England will be huge for them but if they can win that game they will go to Cardiff full of confidence and who knows what could happen.

My prediction – Champions (no Grand Slam though)

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IRELAND – Donnacha Ryan (32yrs old – 34 Caps – Second Row)

Don’t worry Mr Ryan, there is no pressure being the full time replacement for one of the best second rows ever in Paul O’Connell. Donnacha has been around the block and ran through brick walls for his province and country for many years now, so should have no issues dealing with this. He is a strong ball player and fantastic at the set-piece, he will be an asset to Ireland and hopefully for them he can take over POC’s mantle.

Ireland are currently in a time of change, I don’t understand the choice of captain as now would’ve been the ideal time to build for 2019, but the players will get around Rory Best and be a very tough outfit to beat.

My prediction – 4th

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ENGLAND – Elliott Daly (23yrs old – uncapped – Centre)

Why oh why oh why has Elliott Daly not been capped yet? He has been outstanding for the last couple of years and had it not been for “BurgessGate” who knows he may have been at the World Cup. With my red hat on, I am glad Mr Lancaster chose what he did, but he doesn’t have that call anymore and Daly should be given his chance. Granted England have an array of talent at that position but Daly would be on the team sheet for me, not only for his rugby ability but he also has a monster boot too.
England quite rightly will be a wounded animal after their nightmare World Cup and will be a team that nobody wants to play. Get selection correct and Eddie Jones could repeat what Warren Gatland did in 2008, but I feel this 6 Nations may be played two much with their hearts to right a wrong and will come up a little short.

My prediction – 3rd

WALES – Aled Davies (23yr old – uncapped – Scrum Half)

Coming from a rugby hot bed in West Wales like Whitland and playing at Scrum Half there will obviously be comparisons to the great Mike Phillips, but this hasn’t effected Aled Davies so far and I am sure this will continue. If reports are correct then he is the fittest player at the Scarlets and this season has kept the fantastic Gareth Davies out of the team this season. He would be picked in my 23 but scrum half is one of the strongest positions for Wales at the moment so whoever misses out should not be too upset.

After a fantastic World Cup Wales will be brimming with confidence especially with the likes of Jon Davies and Liam Williams coming back from injury. Lots of people believe Wales could go the whole way this year to continue the pattern of Grand Slam’s in 2008 and 2012 and I think the guys will have the confidence to think this too. A huge first game in Ireland could be the start a fantastic journey for Wales and with three home games and a trip to HQ……could we do it again? Oooopps sorry there goes that red hat again.

My prediction – 2nd

ITALY – Michele Campagnaro (22yr old – 18 caps – Centre)

After scoring two tries on his international debut in Cardiff, Campagnaro has some what gone a little under the radar. However having moved to Exeter in the summer he has started to get back to his best and could help Italy pick up a win or two this year (if their lucky).
As per usual Italy will look to the likes of Sergio Parisse to get them over the line this year, but with Jacques Brunel leaving after the tournament surely they owe their coach a leaving present.

My prediction – Wooden Spoon but one win

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FRANCE – Guilhem Guirado (29yr old – 38 Caps – Hooker)

Guilhem Guirado has been around the french squad for some time but with previous coaches not deciding on a particular game plan and developing it as a with most other positions he found himself in and out the team all the time. However, with Noves selecting him as captain Guirado will be able to finally establish himself as his countries first choice hooker. Let’s face, he plays for a club that could have any player they want and in a team of names like Habana, Giteau, Cooper and Fernandez-Lobbe he definitely shines more often than not.
“Which France will turn up?”, is a question that is asked not only before every tournament but every individual game that they play. Guy Noves is a man not to be messed with and will be clear in the style he wants France to play, but will this be enough?

My prediction – from process of elimination 5th but they could equally complete a Grand Slam!

Six Nations Table prediction

1st – Scotland (4wins)
2nd – Wales
3rd – England
4th – Ireland
5th – France
6th – Italy (1 win)
But what do I know……over to you lads to prove me right or wrong!!

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