Leicester got their Heineken Cup campaign back on track this weekend with a vital win over Ospreys. This result was largely down to the excellent work of Youngs and Flood. However the former gets my vote this week following his reaction to his performance against Toulouse. Eddie Butler stated in the Guardian, “Youngs is far more likely to want to be left alone” as he doesn’t enjoy the spotlight, and with the added pressure on him from Coach Richard Cockerill, the young scrum half really needed a performance. The 23 year old certainly provided, with excellent decision making and a try, showing his critics that there is a reason is he in the England set-up. Whether he will start at number 9 in the autumn internationals remains to be seen.
Toulon’s Armitage contingent continued to impress this week with Steffon taking the headlines as he proved to be the difference in his teams encounter with Cardiff Blues. The call for Armitage’s England spot is gathering momentum with Jonny Wilkinson the latest to emphasise the flankers ability, stating, “guys like that are gold dust”. There is no denying Armitage’s presence around the breakdown. However, his stature is backed up with a brain and there are currently very few ball -winning flankers playing as well as the number 7. Hopefully Lancaster can be swayed to venture as far as southern France to add to Steffon’s 5 test appearances.
The young Irish scrum half was the stand-out performer as Munster cruised to victory over Edinburgh this weekend. The youngster showed great character to remain unfazed by his role in last week’s loss to Racing Metro 92 and came away from the game as man of the match and with a well taken try. Asides from getting on the score sheet, his partnership with Keatley worked extremely well as they orchestrated and dictated Munster’s game plan. Whether it was home advantage or a strong presence of mind from Murray that earned the Irish team their bonus point, the number 9 will be hoping to add to his 12 international caps as displays such as this will surely retain Declan Kidney’s interest.
20 year old Fly-half Paddy Jackson’s impressive 14 point haul proved the difference as Ulster defeated Glasgow Warriors in a hard fought encounter. Although Jackson is going to have a lot of work to do for a call up this autumn there must be something going right, as this was Ulster seventh consecutive victory. A calm head certainly rests upon this youngsters shoulders and this is emphasised through Ulster’s table topping form in the RABO Pro 12.
With Nick Evans set for a spell on the sidelines, Harlequins summer acquisition is proving to be an adequate replacement. Ben Botica racked up 20 points as he kicked his side to victory in Ireland. The number 10’s decision making and passing was also of a high standard and he played the conditions very well, keeping the ball in hand in the windy conditions. The New-Zealand born fly-half qualifies for England and is beginning to cause a murmur within the media. Son of Frano Botica, famous throughout Rugby League, he is continuing to impress. He has big boots to fill in stepping in for Nick Evans but if continues to perform as he has been there will certainly be no reason to suggest why he can’t push for international recognition.