Six Nations

Cueto: World Cup heartache can fire England to Six Nations glory

Mark Cueto believes England's dismal performance at the Rugby World Cup could be the catalyst for success at the upcoming Six Nations.

England were unceremoniously dumped out of the 2015 competition at the pool stages after costly defeats to Wales and Australia.

It was the first time a host nation has been eliminated at the pool stages of the World Cup and led to Stuart Lancaster being replaced by former Japan coach Eddie Jones in November.

Jones' task is to revitalise England at the Six Nations - which they begin at Scotland on Saturday - and Cueto says the pain of their World Cup exit could drive them to the title.

"I really wouldn't be surprised if they [England] did well," Cueto, a 2007 World Cup runner-up with England, told Omnisport. "Ultimately they've got a good group of players.

"I think there will still be a lot of hurt in that squad from the World Cup, and there are a couple of new faces who will want to impress. I actually expect them to do well in the Six Nations.

"Some of the stuff they had shown prior to the World Cup, they looked really good. This time last year we all talked about England being a solid team, a tough team to play against based on a strong set-piece, a good goal-kicker and a solid defence.

"But we wanted to see that attacking side of the game and we certainly saw that in the [last] Six Nations, and that change was sort of a pinnacle in that final game against France. We all thought 'right, they've sort of arrived now, and this couldn't be timed better going into the World Cup'.

"Obviously things didn't pan out like that, but the fact they've shown they can do it is certainly a positive they've got to look back at."

In fact Cueto believes England could well be favourites for the upcoming tournament due to the performance of their domestic clubs in the Premiership and European competitions.

He added: "It's difficult [to pick a favourite] because the Six Nations is a one-off competition and you can't read too much into domestic form, but ultimately that's one of the things we can gauge it on.

"You look at the Irish teams in Europe - Leinster, Munster and Ulster - teams that have always been very strong in Europe, they're not performing brilliantly, so you'd be tempted to look away from Ireland.

"I think Wales, we just don't know with Wales, they did tremendously well in the World Cup with a huge amount of injuries. Do those guys injured during the World Cup come back in and strengthen? They're a bit of an unknown really.

"France have got a new set up, their teams are going alright in Europe but not setting anything on fire.

"So, out of that discussion you'd have to argue the English teams are leading the way to a degree, not only the teams but individuals are playing well as well

"So I'd be tempted to go with England."