Corbisiero: Ireland are Guinness Six Nations frontrunners

As a former Championship winner with England, Alex Corbisiero knows better than most what it will take to claim the 2019 Guinness Six Nations crown.

As a former Championship winner with England, Alex Corbisiero knows better than most what it will take to claim the 2019 Guinness Six Nations crown.

The loosehead prop featured in four of England’s five matches in the 2011 Championship, where defeat to Ireland in their last game denied the Red Rose the Grand Slam.

And speaking ahead of the Guinness Six Nations, which is available on NBC Sports for those in the USA, Corbisiero has given his verdict on the contenders for this year’s Championship.

“England are resurging from where they were at the end of the Six Nations last year, guys like Owen Farrell had a great autumn,” said the former London Irish and Northampton Saints forward.

“They went three from four and only lost to the All Blacks by a point, it’s a very good side for English rugby. Last year we saw them make a good start to the Championship.

“They won their first two games, including one against Wales, but then they had a massive drop off and that’s something Eddie Jones has to be very vary of this year.

“He doesn’t want to overwork his team and push them to the point where maybe they breakdown. They also need a bit of luck with injuries.

“When England have their full squad out, when they are not missing key players, they are a genuine contender in this Championship.”

Despite England’s resurgence in the November Test series, Corbisiero still believes defending champions Ireland are the favourites to win the Championship again.

“I see Ireland as the team to beat,” he said. “I think they are a frontrunner as much as you can pick a frontrunner in this Championship.

“Historically we’ve seen how easy it is to fall off and lose one game. Even last year in the Six Nations they were able to win, that drop goal from Johnny Sexton in the 80-something minute to win [against France] defined them and the Grand Slam.

“I think what is so special about this Championship is they have England at home in the first game – that is going to be so massive – there’s so much at stake.

“I think the Irish teams traditionally start well, most of their players are from the provinces of Leinster and Munster and play together more consistently than some of the other teams.”

Corbisiero also expects Scotland to be there or thereabouts this year, but he revealed that Wales are his dark horses to win the Championship if they overcome France in their opening match.

“I think this Welsh team quietly went about their business in the autumn and went four from four – it’s a great side and they have most of their players home contracted now,” he said.

“Players like George North are back home and are going to peak for Wales. I think they have the ingredients to surprise some people.

“That game against France in the opening weekend will massive for them. If they are able to get a win then that will build momentum and every team cannot take this Wales team for granted.”