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Punters latch on to Scots but big two in market hold the key

Behind enemy lines with the bookmakers' rugby experts

Scotland's Stuart Hogg has his supporters to be top tryscorer
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We asked the bookmakers’ rugby experts to fill us in on who they think will win the Six Nations, who punters have been backing, and to give us their one best bet in any tournament market

Ian Morley
Ireland will reign supreme this year as they have a settled team with a number of in-form players who seem to be peaking just at the right time whereas England have had injury woes galore. I’m looking forward to watching Scotland but this may be a year too soon for them.

Ireland top our liabilities having been 11-4 while England have drifted. We’ve seen a number of speculative wagers on the Scots but little for Wales or France.

I like Stuart Hogg each-way in the top tournament tryscorer market. He will get a lot of opportunities in a Scotland team looking to play an expansive free-flowing brand of rugby.

Paul Timmons
The Irish provinces have excelled in Europe and are relatively unscathed team when it comes to injuries when compared with the other nations.

With exciting youngsters Jacob Stockdale and Jordan Larmour, and an in-form Keith Earls, Joe Schmidt has flair wingers who can make something out of nothing.

Ireland have been backed in from 13-5 to 6-4 in recent weeks, but Scotland are also proving popular with the punters following impressive performances in the autumn. Wales have been backed in the wooden-spoon market.

I’ll go for Gareth Davies to be top tryscorer. With Rhys Webb injured Davies will start at scrum-half for Wales and, like his injured teammate, is a tryscoring machine. The Welsh fixtures look likely to be high-scoring affairs.

Peter Spencer
Ireland look the team to beat. They are least affected by injuries and have a friendly run of fixtures. England away is a tough finale but it’s possible the Irish could already have the title in the bag by then.

England are always popular in the outright market and this year is no exception. We also have big liabilities on Scotland outright and Wales for the grand slam.

My best bet would be the Ireland-England straight forecast.

Alan Alger
Ireland go into the Six Nations off the back of three good results in the autumn internationals and they are a very well-organised team with top-quality players occupying every position. England have a growing injury list and with a host of uncapped players in their squad they may lack the strength and depth needed to win the Six Nations this year. Scotland will pose a threat and are likely to cause problems for Ireland and England however I still expect them to fall short. Whoever wins it is going to be a competitive and exciting tournament.

The majority of the money has been for Ireland, who were 11-4 last year. There has also been a bit of money for England and Ireland in the dual forecast market.

The best-value bet looks to be to France for the wooden spoon. They have a tough draw and lost three of their four matches in November with a 23-23 home draw against Japan showing just where France are at the moment.

Leon Blanche
Ireland have had by far the best preparation, have lost no one to injury and with Leinster and Munster leading the way in Europe they can win the tournament.

Money has been coming constantly for Scotland since their fine autumn displays and they have also been popular to win Grand Slam.

My best bet comes in the final round and I’d back Ireland to beat England at 2-1.

Joe Carter
Ireland. Their players have played considerably fewer minutes this year than England and are the only team to beat England under Eddie Jones.

At the moment we’re laying Scotland and Wales but we expect bigger bets on England and Ireland before kick-off.

I like Ireland to win the Grand Slam and England to cover in the opening weekend against Italy.

Ian Tibbs
England look the winners. The fixtures are in their favour while many other teams are badly hit by injuries. It will probably come down to Ireland at home in the last game.

Punters have been coming for everyone but France in a pretty open market.

I like the look of Sam Simmonds to be England’s top tryscorer. His stats for his club are exceptional, and if he can bring that form to the Six Nations he could prove to be a big price.

Paddy Power
Paddy Power
I may have the green-tinted glasses on too early but it’s tough to look past Ireland, even with away trips to France and England.

The Irish sides are flying high domestically and in Europe, so much so that English coach Eddie Jones has kicked off the media mind games already. Billy Vunipola is a significant loss for the chariot men, so we’ll be looking to take them on.

Money has been coming for Ireland, particularly in light of poorer European form for some of the English sides while Wales are drifting so much with their injuries and at bigger prices we are finding one or two believers willing to part with their hard-earned.

It’s about a 5-1 shot that England v Ireland on St Patrick’s Day is a grand-slam decider and we may not even get that far with anyone still in the running for a slam, so no grand-slam winner looks a decent bet, while George North to be top tryscorer is worth chancing.

Steve Johnson
Sky Bet
After beating England in the final game last year and with a successful autumn campaign which involved a dominant victory over South Africa, Ireland go into the tournament full of confidence and are my pick.

Early in the year we saw money for Scotland while England are being backed for the grand slam as we get nearer to kick-off.

Josh Adams has been in flying form in the Premiership this season and is the current top tryscorer in the league. With injuries to main Wales wingers Liam Williams and George North he gets the nod to start in the first game and this gives him the chance to cement a starting position for the remainder of the tournament.

Andrew Sinfield
Sporting Index
Eddie Jones is overplaying the injuries as most of England’s missing players – bar Billy Vunipola – are squad players or should only miss the Italy game. England have plenty of depth, home advantage versus Ireland could be a defining factor, and they look the winners.

Punters have latched on to Scotland’s good autumn and overall recent improvement, but I’m happy to lay them at the current levels.

I’d expect Ireland to score plenty of tries, so either Conor Murray or CJ Stander for top tryscorer should give punters a run for their money. Both should see plenty of minutes and definitely know where the tryline is.

Chris Ball
William Hill
Ireland have the best squad but England, despite their injuries, have the better schedule. The fixture against Scotland at Murrayfield will be crucial but England should have the upper hand in the scrum and with the boot.

There has been a late move for Ireland but Scotland are by far our worst result. Since the Scots ran New Zealand so close and beat Australia in the autumn internationals punters have really latched on to them.

The England-Ireland dual forecast looks a solid bet.

Tai Beck
Home advantage is huge for England and the fact they face their main market rivals Ireland at Twickenham in the final round should tip the balance in their favour.

Weight of support has seen Ireland’s outright price drop steadily and we’ve also laid them for the triple crown.

England to win the grand slam, at fairly big odds in several places now, appeals as great value.

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England are always popular in the outright market and this year is no exception
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