Lions Watch: Team of the Week
January 7, 2013
Stuart Hogg scored for Glasgow to keep them in second place in the RaboDirect PRO12 © PA Photos
The countdown to the eagerly-awaited British & Irish Lions tour to Australia intensified at the weekend with the latest action in the Premiership, PRO12 and Top 14.
As we all tick off the days until the team depart Down Under, ESPNscrum will cast an eye across the action and pinpoint those players eligible for the elite tourists who are pushing their selection claims with strong performances. But luckily there is still a lot of rugby to be played until the squad board the plane for Hong Kong and plenty of time for hopes to rise and fall.
15. Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors)
The 20-year-old gave Scotland fans reason for optimism ahead of the Six Nations when he grabbed Glasgow's second try in their dominant 41-7 win at home to Treviso to cap an impressive performance in attack and defence.
14. Christian Wade (London Wasps)
The Wasps speedster pounced for a pivotal score in his side's Premiership victory over Bath at Adams Park. His superb finish accounted for four defenders and helped propel Wasps into the top four.
13. Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster)
Showed he is approaching full fitness and his best form with a full 80 minutes in Leinster's win over Edinburgh. Six Nations opponents you have been warned.
12. Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues)
The twice-capped Lion returned to the Cardiff team and played the entire 80 minutes as the Blues grabbed an impressive 17-6 win away to Munster.
11. David Strettle (Saracens)
The England international got among the tries during his side's victory over Sale and also turned provider for team-mate Charlie Hodgson with a deft chip through highlighting the fact he is more than a speed merchant. The fleet-footed Strettle may well feature in the Six Nations if he maintains this kind of form.
10. Owen Farrell (Saracens)
Farrell signalled his intent to keep hold of the England No.10 shirt with a 22-point haul in their Premiership victory over Sale. Farrell slotted eight kicks from eight attempts to suggest that Leinster's Jonathan Sexton may not get it all his own way when it comes to the Lions.
9. Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow)
The 23-year-old continued his meteoric rise after making his Scotland debut during the autumn internationals and hounded Italy scrum-half Edoardo Gori all night as Glasgow beat Treviso.
George Skivington grabbed two tries as London Irish beat Gloucester © Getty Images
1. Tom Court (Ulster)
A much-improved player from that which suffered at the hands of England during the last Six Nations. He is set to embrace the latest battle for northern hemisphere supremacy full of confidence with his latest eye-catching display coming in Ulster's dominant PRO12 victory over Scarlets.
2. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
The England hooker was back to his abrasive best to help Northampton return to form and inflict the Chiefs' first loss at home in the league with a 30-19 win.
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
The Tigers' tight-head may have only appeared as a second half replacement in his side's Premiership victory over Worcester but that is all someone of his class needs to make a big impression. Hitting a rich vein of form just in time for the Six Nations..
4. Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
The England international continued to show why he is rated so highly with a strong showing in Wasps' line-out against Bath as well as getting through a ton of work around the field. A big Six Nations surely awaits.
5. George Skivington (London Irish)
Almost single-handedly breathed new confidence in the Exiles after a turbulent few weeks over the festive period. The former Leicester man went over for two tries in Irish's well-deserved 18-12 victory at Kingsholm.
6. Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints)
Another player who did his best to remind the Stuart Lancaster and the rest of the England coaching staff that he has much to offer. His physical approach was crucial to the Saints win down in Exeter and he didn't shy from work either in attack or defence.
7. Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors)
Continues to show that you don't need to be a huge specimen to flourish on the open-side flank. His work-rate at the breakdown almost helped Worcester to a famous win over Leicester and Lions head coach Warren Gatland is likely to need either Kvesic or someone similar in stature to nullify the threat of Australia's No.7, David Pocock.
8. Billy Vunipola (London Wasps)
The Lions tour may come a little too soon for the 20-year-old but there is no doubt he is a rising star of the game and offered another all-action display as his Wasps side accounted for Bath.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor
Red cards, uncontested scrums, end-of-season wobbles and schoolboy errors - the Monday Maul looks back over the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures includes puffed players, dismissed players and training in the snow
The new European competition is now a reality and rugby will be better as a result. John Taylor looks at the deal as the dust settles