Six Nations Team of the Week: Round Two
OPINION: It is not a surprise that England again dominates @rugby365com’s famous weekly selection.
Their domination of France at the weekend has seen them claim six places in our starting XV.
A revitalised Ireland are next best with four players in our first-choice selection.
Scotland, Wales (two each) and Italy (one) make up the numbers.
There is further reward for Ireland in our back-up squad – with six players bubbling under.
England (four), Scotland (three) and Wales (two) provide the rest of the team.
Four players, all from England, return from last week – centre Henry Slade, flyhalf Owen Farrell, hooker Jamie George and prop Mako Vunipola.
Team of the Week Round Two:
15 – Rob Kearney (Ireland):
Showed exactly what Ireland missed in their loss to England. Gave his team the defensive solidity, also joined the attack at opportune times – getting 88 running metres, beating five defenders and claiming three clean breaks.
Bubbling under: Blair Kinghorn (Scotland)
14 – Keith Earls (Ireland):
Streaked past Sean Maitland and also backed himself with a chip-and-chase. Pure class.
Bubbling under: Jonah Holmes (Wales)
13 – Henry Slade (England):
Has silenced his doubters and was lethal against France. Kept Bastareaud quiet.
Bubbling under: Chris Farrell (Ireland)
12 – Owen Watkin (Wales):
Very busy and efficient match. Nine carries, 11 passes (plenty in an era when the inside centre is usually a crash-test dummy), one off-load and nine tackles.
Bubbling under: Manu Tuilagi (England)
11 – Jonny May (England):
Was clinical enough to finish off all the opportunities that came his way. Also strong defensively and chased kicks brilliantly.
Bubbling under: Jacob Stockdale (Ireland)
10 – Owen Farrell (England):
Was pivotal in setting up two of England’s tries, tormented France’s back three with his out-of-hand kicks and stepped up in defence.
Bubbling under: Finn Russell (Scotland)
9 – Conor Murray (Ireland):
Close call between Ben Youngs and Murray – with the latter producing an impressive kicking and passing game.
Bubbling under: Ben Youngs (England)
8 – Josh Strauss (Scotland):
The hard-working loose forward made 25 tackles and 17 carries. Strauss set the tone of his performance with a big carry to bounce Bundee Aki off.
Bubbling under: Josh Navidi (Wales)
7 – Braam Steyn (Italy):
The toughest call of the week – with big competition from Sean O’Brien, Thomas Young and Tom Curry. Steyn was incredible against Wales in all facets of the game – making 16 tackles and 11 carries, while also picking off a number of Wales’ line-outs.
Bubbling under: Tom Curry (England)
6 – Peter O’Mahoney (Ireland):
Was at his most brutal best at the rucks and disrupting Scotland’s mauls. His tackle was well into double figures and he carried well.
Bubbling under: Mark Wilson (England)
5 – Jonny Gray (Scotland):
The big man was certainly up for it. Just a pity he did not always have the support of his teammates.
Bubbling under: Quin Roux (Ireland)
4 – Courtney Lawes (England):
Grabbed his opportunity with both hands, coming in for the injured Maro Itoje. Some massive hits, including flattening the considerable frame of Mathieu Bastareaud.
Bubbling under: James Ryan (Ireland)
3 – Samson Lee (Wales):
One of the few standout players in a rather unconvincing Welsh pack. Apart from his powerful scrumming, he carried strongly.
Bubbling under: Simon Berghan (Scotland)
2 – Jamie George (England):
Dylan Hartley’s days are numbered. George has not just surpassed him, he has left him in his wake.
Bubbling under: Rory Best (Ireland)
1 – Mako Vunipola (England):
Not just a big unit. Hit a fair number of rucks, made 17 tackles and had 15 carries.
Bubbling under: Cian Healy (Ireland)
Our individual selections:
Paul Dobson XV: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Peter O’Mahoney, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Jan de Koning XV: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Braam Steyn, 6 Peter O’Mahoney, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Team of the Week Round One: 15 Stuart Hogg (Scotland), 14 George North (Wales), 13 Henry Slade (England), 12 Manu Tuilagi (England), 11 Blair Kinghorn (Scotland), 10 Owen Farrell (England), 9 Ben Youngs (England), 8 Louis Picamoles (France), 7 Justin Tuperic (Wales), 6 Mark Wilson (England), 5 Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), 4 Maro Itoje (England), 3 Kyle Sinckler (England), 2 Jamie George (England), 1 Mako Vunipola (England).