Six Nations 2013 Team of the Week: Round 2

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15: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
We saw glimpses last year of this man’s potential – he is showing us now just how good he could be. The awareness to intercept a try-scoring pass was impressive in itself, but the dazzling 80 metre dash that followed? Breathtaking.

14: Tim Visser (Scotland)
The flying Dutchman was anonymous last week, but was back to his best against Italy. A smartly taken try in the first half capped a performance that saw Visser come looking for the ball a lot more than he had previously.

13: Mathieu Bastareaud (France)
Probably the only player to come out of France’s weekend with any credit (groundsmen included), Bastareaud completely justified his selction – which is more than can be said for the listless Mermoz inside him. He was a one man-wrecking ball in the midfield, getting France front-foot ball which they managed to squander time and again.

12: Matt Scott (Scotland)
Strong, solid and direct, Scott did everything that was asked of him against Italy. He very nearly crossed in the first half only to be denied by a last ditch tackle, but made no such mistake in the second forty as he glided round the last man to send Murrayfield into raptures.

11: Mike Brown (England)
Two games that lacked for attacking ambition meant it was far from a vintage weekend for wing play, and indeed Sean Maitland can count himself unlucky not to make it an all Scottish back three (when was the last time that happened?) Brown, though, makes the team for somehow managing to smash the metres-made statistics, with 76 – a valiant effort in such poor conditions. He was the only man in the game to top 50.

10: Owen Farrell (England)
Seems to grow a little more every game. After showing a bit more in attack last week he recognized that the conditions in Dublin dictated that composure and precision were the order of the day, and duly outshone the man that has defined those two qualities for the last decade or so – Ronan O’Gara.

9: Ben Youngs (England)
One of the tougher calls, as Laidlaw and Phillips were both excellent. Youngs gets the nod, though, for a mature and precise performance in what were horrific conditions for scrum-halves.

1: Gethin Jenkins (Wales)
A return to form at an opportune moment saw Jenkins help Wales to a crucial victory over France. Perhaps he felt he had something to prove playing across the channel, as he has had to sit on the bench for much of this season. Still looks short of complete match fitness, but it was a solid performance from the Welshman.

2: Rory Best (Ireland)
Ireland’s stand-out performer by some distance, Best made a consistent nuisance of himself against England. The Irish line-out, while not the strongest part of their game, went reasonably well too.

3: Euan Murray (Scotland)
What a difference a week makes. Italy have never been lacking for a pack, which makes Murray’s dominance all the more impressive. Superb at scrum time, perhaps the most poignant stat is that Murray topped the tackle charts with 15 – an astounding figure for a prop.

4: Andrew Coombs (Wales)
The Dragon has taken to international rugby like the proverbial duck to water. Coombs was a vital cog in a Wales win that was defined by close-nit charges and terrific defence.

5: Ian Evans (Wales)
Completing an all-Welsh second row partnership, Ian Evans makes the team mostly for the sheer amount of work he got through. 14 tackles saw him joint-top of that leaderboard, and as he continues to return to full fitness he will only get better. With Alun Wyn Jones reportedly returning soon, all of a sudden Wales look to have good strength in depth in this area.

6: Ryan Jones (Wales)
Ryan Jones’ return to the Welsh team was triumphant. Leading out a team who hadn’t won for eight games, his energy and passion galvanised a team that had been looking tired and uninterested. He even managed to employ the choke tackle, a tactic that was used to such great success against his team the week before.

7: Chris Robshaw (England)
With Warburton injured and out of form, and Heaslip having a shocker at the weekend, Robshaw can count himself one of the front-runners for Lions captaincy after leading England to their first win in Dublin in the 6 Nations for 10 years. He topped the tackle count and also popped up all over the pitch with ball in hand. Growing into a world-class captain.

8: Tom Wood (England)
Louis Picamoles topped the stats for carries, metres made and tackles for France – but in such a dire performance, that is not saying much. Wood makes the team for being consistently the unsung hero of the English pack. So often the man at the bottom of breakdowns when penalties are won, he is also an invaluable line-out option.

By Jamie Hosie

Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

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24 comments on “Six Nations 2013 Team of the Week: Round 2

  1. How does Halfpenny keep getting overlooked for these?! Hogg undoubtedly had a good game, but Halfpenny has been one of the best players week in week out and never seems to get picked.

    I didn’t see anything special from Gethin in all honesty. Hasn’t impressed for a long time in my eyes. Maybe I missed something.

    Youngs was great but my personal preference would have been Laidlaw, mainly because he didn’t have the strength outside him that Youngs had and still managed to make a huge impact.

    I think Robshaw is definitely raising his hand for a Lions spot, but captain seems a far leap to me.

    • Halfpenny had another great game, no doubt about it, but Hogg’s awareness, pace and skill to score that try were incredible. He was the best full-back of the weekend for me.

      As for Youngs, I picked him because of the conditions and how well he played in them. Laidlaw was arguably better, but Youngs has fallen apart in the past in dodgy conditions behind a pack that’s not always getting its way. This weekend he was excellent.

      Who would be your Lions captain right now, if not Robshaw? I’ve been sceptical in the past, but if he keeps this form up it’ll be hard to ignore him.

      • When it comes to picking a Lions captain, it has to be somebody who is nailed down to start the test matches in the first XV on their merits as a player. It’s still too far out to be confident that any of the candidates will be in that position.

      • I agree that at the moment Robshaw is the only consistent performer playing and captaining his side, and therefore the front runner for Lions captain.
        For someone who last year was almost unknown to a lot of rugby fans has lead England to second in last years 6N, narrow losses in summer and autumn tests, and a big win against NZ. And now the only team who can win the GS. I don’t think you can ignore those credentials.
        There will be other names thrown in the hat, Warburton, BOD, O’Connell, Jones and maybe even Brown if Scotland keep performing like they did against Italy. But at the moment I think Robshaw is the man for the job.

        • I would pick Robshaw over BOD because of his fitness and durability. He’s likely to give you 240 mins of non stop work across the 3 games. I think he will be a galvanising force within the squad as he is humble and the epitome of improvement through hard work.

          A year ago I thought he was the ideal guy to stop us getting worse, I didn’t know if he was the guy to lead us forward to 2015. But he has just continued to graft and add to his game, I can’t think of a player I respect more, I’m sure he’ll be an inspirational leader for the Lions.

    • Felix…You are spot on with above. Halfpenny is leading contender at full back by a distant. Next series games will dictate if Kearney or Hogg (also Brown) are leading contenders as former has not got back to last years level yet. Gethin has struggled in tight in last 2 matches and as a result has conceded penalties. Robshaw will make squad but cannot be secure of starting spot. BOD or Best look to be leading contenders at this stage as both are likely to be first choices barring any new injury concerns.

    • I think thats a very dangerous comment and i’m an Englishman, clearly Wales’ faults lie with an inepitude in Rob Howley as Head Coach rather than anything else, if Warren Gatland wasn’t on Lions duty I think it may be a different situation.

  2. The team seems pretty fair. I would say that I didn’t think Genkins has a great game; but then I couldn’t think who I would have had in there instead.
    I actually thought that Marler had a very good game.

    I also keep thinking that surely Robshaw can’t be Lions captain; but then I can’t think of someone that I want to be Lions captain? It is a difficult one.

      • The thing about BOD is can his body hold up for three intense Lions test matches in three weeks? Will he be able to play intensely for 80 minutes in all of those games.

        I am a massive BOD fan; but there is a reason that Heaslip is Ireland captain now, and its BODs fitness.

    • I would say that Brown offers significantly more than North both in attack and defence.

      Can also play full-back rather well

      • Whilst I strongly disagree on your first point, it’s also worth noting that North can play centre if needs be.

  3. Wales play well and finally get some forwards into the team of the week – still a game that has to be won up front first, always good to see it recognised.

    A bit generous for Gethin – he was very good for 50mins but faded very fast. As you say, still way unfit. Howlers gamble of playing him into fitness could actually work. A fully fit Gethin against Cole on the final weekend would be something to see. Both scrummagers, both great in the loose, neither prone to smashing ankles or punching prone scrum halves….

    Lions captain – Ryan Jones? I say that being a national captain is actually a hindrance for being chosen as Lions captain. Much easier for the coach to have a player without any perception of being the known leader of one of the constituent countries. Still BODs to lose I think.

    Farrel is getting better and better. Hope he has a hiccup on the final weekend.

  4. Gatland. First he has a go at Robshaw last year, which was unfounded and looking more and more stupid now, and then he has a go at English rugby players in a comment that might have been fair 15 months ago but looks ridiculous now. Is he really the best man to lead the Lions?

    Don’t worry Brighty, with the way Gatland is looking there will hardly be any England players going and Robshaw certainly won’t be captain.

    England Wales is beginning to look tastier and tastier, whatever the result against France and I am becoming more and more worried about that game. I mean what is PSA doing? It seems like he’s going to play Fofana in the centre!

    • Staggy, I’d pay no attention to the interview Gatland gave. He’ll pick the squad based on merit, not on what the Aussies and their press may say about too many English touring. Currently, you’d have to say that there’s a lot of the English boys putting their hand up for selection.

      I think it’s a case of Gatland indulging in his favourite hobby of winding up the press.

    • Staggy, I read what Gatland said and I was surprised that it was seen as anti-English. I thought he was having a go at the SH press and even the entire SH rugby environment, by pointing out that basically when Eng are down there they will do anything, and he means anything, to drag them into anything they can off the field.

      The dwarf-throwing thing for example was totally blown out of proportion – one old-school rugby bellend (Tindall) got hammered but I always felt it was a setup. Get the players to the bar, tipoff the press, free booze for the royalty, as many suggestive photos as they can get, etc. Yes, everyone non-English in the B&Is loved it because who can avoid a little schadenfreude when the entire build-up to the RWC has focused on England’s chances and the non-chances of everyone else. Also everyone can pretend that this was part of Eng’s crap performances on the field so can lay into them even more.

      As for the Lions captaincy, I’ve said before that I think Gatland will pick a non-national captain, preferably BOD. This way he avoids any of the contention and in BOD can conveniently pick a player who will probably retire after so Gatland won’t have to go through the Henry effect of trying to convince his Welsh players that they really are as good as the English players who he thought were better than them in Lions season.

      You’ve gotta be fearful of France – humiliated and on their way to Twickers. Perhaps a call up for Harry the English hater to get things rolling nicely is also on the cards?

      • Haha, and seeing Dallaglio pitch side will wind him up even further.

        Unless he picks a more mobile pack and assuming England can match the Scottish performance (conditions permitting) I think they will get stuffed at the breakdown.

        Tuilagi Vs Basteraud has got to be the biggest midfield collision in world rugby.

        If you can be bad enough to lose to Tonga and good enough to be a better side than the ABs in a RWC final in the space of 3 weeks …. yeah I’m nervy

    • It makes a nice inflammatory headline, but I didn’t read anything to suggest it’s going to influence his selection. Key points to me seem to be:
      - Aussie press will get into us in anyway they can (statement of fact so best to be prepared for it)
      - An English touring culture developed at the RWC that he wouldn’t want to see a repeat of in the pressure cooker of the Lions. Fair point, but it’s history and no longer relevant (i.e. Johnno wanted a bunch of lads in it together or a tour culture, Lancaster’s style is different and the players were role models in SA). I may be reading too much into it, but for him to be making the point it probably means he is considering the players embroiled in the negative RWC headlines (Haskell, Hartley, Ashton & Tuilagi) so it’s potentially a good thing from an England perspective.

  5. Hope their aren’t this many Scot’s in the starting line up for The Lions Tour as we’ll get stuffed in every game!

    • As an Englishman I would suggest that’s a bit harsh. Murray, Gray, Harley, Laidlaw, Scott, Visser and Hogg have all put their hands up for selection in the last two weeks. I don’t think any of them would let the Lions down.