I think this will be England’s year. With the full time professional contracts being reinstated, and key Sevens players making a return to the XVs programme, it’s hard not to see them taking the spoils.
What excites me about England is their young talent coming through, and in the autumn they showed what they were capable of. Simon Middleton has timed it well. England have depth and plenty of combinations they can draw upon and that will make them hard to beat because they have threats all over the team.
Player to watch: Hannah Botterman
Ireland really failed to impress last year in the championship and their most notable result was the loss to Scotland at home, but I feel their fortunes may turn around. Against England in the autumn they gave them a good run for their money.
Ireland are a team that grow into a game and it’s usually in the second half where you see them play their best rugby. With the pace and experience of Alison Miller back in their ranks, I am expecting better things from this team but I don’t think they will have enough in the tank to finish in the top two.
Player to watch: Claire Molloy
Wales are a team that tend to start the Six Nations well, and last season they pulled off a narrow victory against Scotland in the first round. This year, they face France away in front of a full house and games don’t come much bigger than that.
I always set my hopes high for Wales; they are a team with potential and are well coached but often they just fail to match the pace and physicality of the big teams.
To make matters worst, they have lost their key player Sioned Harries to injury. If Wales can start well and build their confidence then they could be a threat, but with three away games, it is going to be a big ask.
Player to watch: Jasmine Joyce
France have had a fantastic 12 months. They are the reigning Six Nations champions and they beat world champions New Zealand in the autumn too.
With their men’s team having a torrid 2018, the women’s team have caught the attention of their nation. Yes, they will start this Six Nations with some key players missing to the World Sevens Series but they still remain the team to beat.
Their match against England in Doncaster in round two will be the game to watch. With that match not being played at Twickenham, it could play into France’s hands. Two years ago, England played France at Twickenham. England had a massive second half and it was the ‘Twickenham crowd’ I think that made the real difference. France certainly have the players to win the tournament, but playing England will be a massive challenge.
Player to watch: Safi N’Diaye
Scotland pulled off an impressive victory over Ireland in the Six Nations last year, but failed to finish the job off against Wales and Italy. With home games against Italy, Wales and Ireland this time around, this could be their year to do the treble.
They are, however, missing their superstar player Jade Konkel due to injury and she will be a huge loss. Not just because of what she brings around the park but because of her leadership. Scotland really have become a team that don’t back down to the challenge. They always push teams hard but need to find a way of maintaining their performance over the full 80 minutes.
Player to watch: Chloe Rollie
After a good autumn with wins over Scotland and South Africa, and with captain Manuela Furlan at the helm, this is a team with high hopes. And so they should. With three games at home, they have the potential to take a big scalp. The match against Ireland in round three should certainly be an interesting match up. Italy have plenty of attacking flare, big carrying forwards and lots experience in their ranks.
Player to watch: Manuela Furlan