Jono Frank casts his eye over the recent European action in search of contenders for Six Nations selection.
At a difficult time for Welsh rugby there is still one shining light in the form of fly-half Rhys Patchell. In a game ultimately decided by the sending off of Lloyd Williams in the 25th minute, the youngster showed great resolve to dispatch all 24 of his team’s points. At just 19, he is still developing and most pundits would urge caution with regard to rushing him into the international set-up. The red-headed number 10 seems comfortable and happy to wait in the wings, “if in two or three years a Welsh call-up comes along, that’s great”. However, with Priestland’s most recent injury depleting the Welsh ranks further, could the Blues’ fly-half be about to step on to centre stage?
Whilst his international role is slowly declining, Ireland’s top points scorer is still asserting his influence at club level. The fly-half kicked all 15 of Munster’s points as they triumphed over a jaded looking Saracens side. The weekend’s rugby certainly had an air of an international hangover, and the stuttering performances certainly highlighted the benefit of having a wise old head at fly-half. The 35 year old tormented Saracens all afternoon, and remains a reassuring figure for the Irish as the Six Nations rolls around.
Ulster swept aside a lacklustre Northampton with a fine team display that Mark Anscombe justifiably referred to as “a bit of a statement”. It certainly sent out a message reaffirming of the wealth of talent being nurtured within Irish ranks. However, it was Andrew Trimble who caught the eye in this one with an excellent display on the wing. Having been given the nod ahead of the Autumn Internationals hero, Craig Gilroy, the 27 year old demonstrated the value of experience as they produced one of the big results of the weekend.
By Jono Frank