13th Jan 2012 | Rugby
After English rugby reached a nadir in New Zealand interim coach Stuart Lancaster has embarked on a new era. There are nine uncapped players in the 32-man elite squad with the likes of Nick Easter, Mark Cueto and Mike Tindall all dispensed with.
The Six Nations is less than a month away and England open their campaign at Murrayfield against Scotland. Stuart Lancaster’s men are 8/13 (Stan James) to start with a win, but many better England sides have come unstuck against the Auld enemy. Scotland are 13/8 (Boylesports) to win.
For an inexperienced squad, it is a surprise to see England 7/2 (Betfred) to win the Six Nations, especially when they are ahead of Ireland (13/2 Stan James) in the betting. With only the ‘home banker’ against Italy, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see England struggle. If they lose against Scotland it could turn into a difficult campaign as Wales, Ireland and France all have more established starting XVs.
Reigning Premiership champions Saracens have been rewarded for their domestic exploits with six of their players selected for the elite squad. Most of the attention is on 20-year-old Owen Farrell, one of the bright young talents of the English game.
We are yet to see what these players can achieve on the international stage but Saracens are bound to miss them for domestic fixtures. They are 7/4 (Ladbrokes) to win the Aviva Premiership but a side like the Leicester Tigers, accustomed to losing their best players in the spring could mount a serious challenge in both the regular season and the play-offs.