Six Nations 2019 Predictions: Champions, wooden spoon and players to watch

Sport360 staff 21:11 31/01/2019
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Ahead of the Six Nations which gets underway on Friday, Sport360 journalists and local rugby gurus share their predictions.

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DAN OWEN

Champions – Ireland

Will be difficult to repeat their Grand Slam heroics, but will just edge it ahead of Wales and England.

Wooden Spoon – Italy
Sadly there has been no progression from the Azzurri in recent years and that looks like continuing.

Player to watch – Liam Williams
Showing great form with Saracens, a real danger in attack either on the wing or at full-back.

Top Try scorer – Jonny May
Likely to getting plenty of opportunities in a dominant side, will finish ahead of Jacob Stockdale.

What to watch out for – An open championship
Ireland, Wales and England can all beat each other, and there’ll be the odd shock on the way.

MATTHEW JONES

Champions – Ireland
Most open tournament in recent years, but the Men in Green are the form team.

Wooden spoon – Italy
Same old story, although as we never know what French team will turn up, the Azzurri can at least aspire for fifth.

Player to watch – Tomos Williams
The sevens specialist gets his opportunity to shine in the opening match against France on Friday.

Top try scorer – Jacob Stockdale
Won this accolade a year ago. He is the man everyone else must beat.

What to watch out for – First match
Ireland v England. What a way to open the tournament. Win and the words Grand Slam will be whispered. Lose and you’re already on the back foot.

NIALL McCAGUE

Champions – Ireland
Wales and England look in strong form, but Schmidt’s men should shade it.

Wooden Spoon – Italy
Without a Six Nations win in nearly four years, the Azzurri will be the whipping boys again.

Player to watch – Billy Vunipola
The Saracens No8 is one of the best players in the world on his day and remains key to England’s prospects.

Top Try scorer – Jacob Stockdale
The 22-year-old has established himself as one of the stars of world rugby. If Ireland can spread the ball wide, he will be difficult to stop.

What to watch out for – England revival
The Red Rose showed signs of improvement in the autumn and should be a force this campaign.

CHRIS BAILEY

Champions – Ireland
The Six Nations has been retained three times in a row and Joe Schmidt’s team are just hitting their peak.

Wooden spoon – Italy
They’ve made fine strides in the age groups, but Conor O’Shea can realistically hope for one victory.

Player to watch – Demba Bamba
The tight-head will be a joy to watch from France’s bench. A more more agile Kyle Sinckler – frightening.

Top try scorer – Jonny May
With back-to-back home games against Scotland and Italy at the end, May will surely be in the mix.

What to watch for – Position battles
Who ends the tournament in the respective starting XVs may well be indicative when it comes to World Cup selection.

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