As a rugby punter it is hard not to get excited about the fact that the Six Nations and Super Rugby are around the corner. While we still have to wait a few weeks for Super Rugby the Northern Hemisphere showpiece event gets going next week where England are priced at 9/10 to defend their title.
England have certainly looked the biggest rivals to New Zealand over the last couple of years, but there are reasons to believe that they are vulnerable this year. The squad doesn't look as strong as it did 12 months ago and while coach Eddie Jones has plenty of depth to call on there may just be some hope for the sides looking to challenge them.
If the betting is to believed, then the most likely challenger will be Ireland who are priced at 5/2. The Irish showed their class at the end of last year when they demolished the Springboks in Dublin and they have three home games this season as opposed to England's two home games. Crucially though they do have to play England at Twickenham.
Many sports bettors dark horse is Scotland at 9/1 and the Scots have certainly impressed in recent times, including a memorable win over Australia at Murrayfield last year. Their club sides the Glasgow and Edinburgh have him playing some very attractive rugby, albeit they have not had much success at European Champions Cup level this season. Scotland play England at home but they have to travel to Wales and Ireland and while I wouldn't put anyone off the 9/1 I do think they will battle to win.
Wales and France are 14/1 and 16/1 respectively and although France have recently changed coaches I have not seen anything that would make me part with any money on them. The Welsh on the other hand have got me interested, mainly as a result of form shown by the Scarlets in Europe.
Italy are 1000/1 no hopers and while there is usually some interest in the wooden spoon market, Italy are such a heavy favourite to finish last that it does not even look as though the Bookmakers will price up on this.
Rather than get involved at this point I'm going to focus on my SuperBru team and you're welcome to join me in the Goodforthegame League where we will have some betting voucher prizes up for grabs.
Click here to join the Goodforthegame SuperBru Club and be sure to get invited into all of our pools!
This article was written for the CitiGaming supplement of the Citizen Newspaper and was published on the 25th of January 2018.