The start of the six nations this weekend, each match previewed here

Recommendations

Wales to beat England by 1-10 points 7/4 Ladbrokes

Ireland -10 points to beat Italy 10/11 Ladbrokes

Scotland +10 points versus France 10/11 Ladbrokes

Friday: Wales v England

A settled and experienced Wales side was named on Monday, retaining the heart of the successful British Lions team of 2013. England on the other hand, missing as many as ten players for this match through injury, have a chance to test their much vaunted strength in depth at the start of World cup year

Wales are as short as 1/2 outright and 4 point favourites on the handicap. Some of this pricing will be influenced by the corresponding match two years ago at the end of the tournament which Wales won 31-3 and i would expect England to be better prepared for the atmosphere this time round.

It is a big ask though for England, with elements of a scratch side in some of their combinations to win in Cardiff. They should keep it close though, in part because their pack is unlikely to be dominated by any six nations opponent so they will get their chances to keep their side of the scoreboard ticking over

The bet i like is Wales to win by 1-10 points at 7/4 Ladbrokes. I think Wales will win, but narrowly, the bet fits

Italy v Ireland, Saturday

Pre-tournament favourites Ireland go to Rome as 1/5 favourites and 10 points favoured on the handicap. The last time the Irish were in the Eternal City, two years ago, they lost 22-15 and Italy have improved since. So have the Irish, now playing with and executing a really good game plan under coach Joe Schmidt though they travel for this game without the world’s best fly half Jonny Sexton recovering from concussion.

Ireland earned revenge for their shock defeat to the Italians in 2013 with a rampant display in 2014. The visitors, shorn of the injured Sergio Parisse, had no answer to Ireland’s power as the Irish ran out 46-7 winners in Dublin. Although 10 points is quite the handicap disadvantage away from home on balance i would say Ireland will cover. Certainly to justify thweir position as tournament favourites and maintain the momentum from the Autumn international clean sweep they should do

Ireland -10 points 10/11 Ladbrokes

France v Scotland, Saturday

The final match of the opening round puts Paris centre stage . Philippe Saint-Andre, eager to prove as successful coaching France as he was captaining them (25 wins from 34 Tests), claims that ‘any one of four teams could win the trophy this year.’ and he has picked a side brimming with flair in the backs. On paper, the team looks superb. Unfortunately every year the mercurial French are inconsistent and fail to justify expectations (in part that is due to the national team playing second fiddle to the top 14 league)

The occasion will mark Vern Cotter’s RBS 6 Nations debut in charge of Scotland. Signs during the autumn internationals were positive that Scotland are finally moving forward after years in the doldrums, with a number of tries scored and the general improvement in skill levels. They key here will be to hold their own in the set piece as the style has changed towards securing quick ball for the first talented set of backs for some time. The kicking game should be competitive too

Markets price up the game with Scotland 4/1 underdogs on the outright and 10 point underdogs on the handicap. With Scotland much improved, and with a relaible kicking game, i like them to cover the handicap here. As always playing the French away you are at risk from them turning it on on any given occasion but the Scotland team is equipped to score points too

Scotland +10 points at 10/11 Ladbrokes

Recommendations

Wales to beat England by 1-10 points 7/4 Ladbrokes

Ireland -10 points to beat Italy 10/11 Ladbrokes

Scotland +10 points versus France 10/11 Ladbrokes