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Jeremy Guscott Gets The Excuses In For England's Poor Six Nations Performance

Jeremy Guscott Gets The Excuses In For England's Poor Six Nations Performance
By PJ Browne

Depending on how results go in the final round of the Six Nations this weekend, England could finish as low as fifth in the table. It's a remarkable turnaround for a team which won the last two championships and not that long ago were being lauded as genuine contenders to New Zealand's World Cup crown.

Speaking to the BBC this week, Jeremy Guscott said there are a numerous questions being asked of and statements being made about an England team which is beginning to show serious cracks. The house that Eddie Jones built was done so with pyrite in its foundations.

One of those statements: 'A Lions tour is so mentally draining'. It's one with which Guscott agrees. The former England international knows plenty about Lions tour - he was a member of the 1989, 1993 and 1997 squads.

"England are not not working hard enough and they're not working with enough intensity. The reason behind that is they look tired," said Guscott.

"Of the 23-man England squad in Paris this weekend, 13 played in the British and Irish Lions series against New Zealand last summer, with George Kruis, Billy Vunipola and Jack Nowell also part of the tour.

"Mentally, going on a Lions tour and then coming back to a long domestic and international season makes a huge difference. The Lions is so big, I can't explain how mentally draining it is."

The only concession to the fact that Ireland, Scotland and Wales also had players on that tour and are also affected by the same factor - apart from calling the team the 'British and Irish Lions - is a graphic showing that England had the majority Lions players.

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Indeed, England did have 16 players in the 41-man squad which initially traveled to New Zealand. Though, Wales and Ireland were not that far behind with 12 and 11, respectively. The Scots had just two.

Of the Ireland squad which defeated Scotland at the weekend, eight were on that Lions tour. The absentees were Sean O'Brien, Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne, who has not played since that tour. O'Brien and Henshaw would undoubtedly be starting for Ireland in Twickenham this weekend if they were not injured.

It's disingenuous to suggest that England are mentally drained by the Lions tour and not then acknowledge that Ireland and Wales would have been similarly affected.

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Guscott adds that given how closely players are monitored in the modern game, those who are at a low ebb should not be selected.

"No player is ever going to say they're mentally drained, but as a player you don't realise it and that's where the management have to step in."

To be fair, Ireland does have the advantage of a system which manages well the minutes its top players see on the pitch for their provinces. That is generally not the case with Aviva Premiership players.

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See Also: Balls Remembers - Ireland's Glorious History Of Denying English Grand Slams

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