Three pre-tournament Six Nations bets to consider
The 2014 Six Nations is now just around the corner and a host of questions are close to being answered, such as can Wales’ back-three carry them to a third successive title and will England be hindered by a lack of creativity from their backs?
Below are our best bets in the outright Six Nations markets in terms of likeliness of success and value.
Wales head the betting at 2/1 and this is no surprise as they boast the majority of the successful British & Irish Lions tour party that beat Australia in 2013 and have the benefit of only two away games this year.
However, it is a concern that no nation has ever managed to lift the Six Nations trophy in three successive instalments of the tournament.
England come next in the betting at 9/4, but with their priority seemingly on the development of some younger players of the future, a tournament victory has to be considered unlikely.
France failed to build any momentum during the autumn internationals and so if any team can take on Wales, it may be Ireland at 11/2, especially as Paul O’Connell is back to lead the side.
Over half of Wales’ tries across the last three Six Nations competitions have been scored by wingers, with Alex Cuthbert going over more than any other player 12 months ago with four tries.
With three more in 2012, Cuthbert is the obvious player to beat and is the clear favourite at 6/1 in the Six Nations betting to be the tournament’s top tryscorer.
Ireland have registered 28 tries across the last three tournaments, which is more than any of the other competing nations in the same timeframe.
Given the injury problems to Tommy Bowe and Simon Zebo, there is a chance for Luke Fitzgerald to shine on the wing after some impressive Heineken Cup displays for Leinster, which is a tournament where he is currently the joint-top try scorer with three.
Fitzgerald is 22/1 to be top the Six Nations try count, while France full-back Brice Dulin is one to consider at an each-way price of 40/1, if the French decide to throw the ball around.
To Finish Bottom
Normal business is likely to be resumed in 2014, with Italy and Scotland battling it out to avoid finishing bottom.
Italy are the 8/13 favourites to prop up the standings, despite not having done so for two years. But, the fact that their first two games are on the road is not ideal for confidence.
Yet, being at home to a Scotland side that they can attack at set pieces and that are without an injured Tim Visser could work in their favour.
For all their talented youngsters coming through the ranks, the Scots still have problems to resolve at number 10 and in the front row and they could be the best bet here at 13/8.