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Turmoil no good for England ahead of World Cup

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Sportal.co.nz     19 Jan 2014     Getty Images

Form from the Autumn internationals was not always a good basis for tipping a likely Six Nations winner because against teams like the All Blacks sides tended to play out of their skins, such as Ireland did before losing in the last minute.

But those types of sides were not often able to turn that sort of performance into consistent form to win the championship, he said.

He did expect England to be a force while the pressure would be on Ireland to maintain their progress.

However, in the longer term, Fitzpatrick is concerned that the European game is in turmoil over the future of competition. England are likely to be absent from next season's Heineken Cup and coming just before a Rugby World Cup it was disturbing, he said.

The European competition was fantastic but it needed the top teams playing and the issue needed to be sorted out.

"This is not a new thing but unfortunately it has just got to the stage where, potentially, we're not going to have the best teams in Europe playing in the same competition which is not right," he said.

Fitzpatrick said he hoped that the English clubs and the Rugby Union could learn to work much closer because watching international rugby was the pinnacle and fans wanted to see teams that were prepared in the best manner and the way it was working at the moment with players only getting a week to prepare for internationals the best was not going to be seen of players.

As a former member of the front row club he thinks recent changes to the scrum engagement laws have helped reduce the number of collapsed scrums but he would like to see a zero tolerance level to infringements at scrums and a removal of the interpretations which could change within games and within a week. There was too much inconsistency in rulings, he said.