2013 British and Irish Lions
Lions Watch: Six Nations offers food for thought
February 4, 2013
Billy Twelvetrees crashes over on his England debut © PA Photos
The countdown to the eagerly-awaited British & Irish Lions tour to Australia intensified at the weekend with the start of the Six Nations.
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 (Scotland)
The Scottish fullback sliced open England early on in their Calcutta Cup clash and was a constant threat with ball in hand. A very assured performance capped off with a superb individual try.
14. Sean Maitland (Scotland)
He marked his debut for the men in blue with a try and on occasions had Mike Brown peddling backwards at some pace. While there are some yet to be convinced by the manner Scotland have fast-tracked him into the side, he looks to be a very worthwhile addition to their XV.
13. Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland)
In what was one of the performances of the season, O'Driscoll terrorised the Welsh defence. He created Simon Zebo's score and bagged a try of his own. A vintage effort.
12. Billy Twelvetrees (England)
He made his debut for England in the Calcutta Cup clash but the Gloucester centre looked right at home on the Test stage. He marked his first cap with a try and carried well throughout.
11. Simon Zebo (Ireland)
You will see Zebo's outrageous piece of skill en route to Cian Healy's try - where he flicked the ball up with his heel and then caught it - on a constant loop over the next few weeks. It was just incredible but it was a solid performance overall from the young Munster winger including his second try in an Ireland shirt.
10. Owen Farrell (England)
After shining for England against the All Blacks in December, Farrell continued where he left off against Scotland. He was the deserved recipient of the Man of the Match award and is a real contender for a place in the Lions' team.
9. Ben Youngs (England)
Despite Danny Care scoring a late try for England, Youngs should keep the No.9 shirt for the Ireland clash next weekend. Youngs was always quick to the breakdown and also put in a fantastic pass for Twelvetrees' try.
Sean O'Brien shone for Ireland © Getty Images
1. Cian Healy (Ireland)
The Leinster loose-head got the better of Wales tight-head Adam Jones and marked the occasion with a try. He looks certain to be the Lions' No.1 come the summer.
2. Rory Best (Ireland)
One of Ireland's stellar performers against Wales, Best hit his men in the lineout and was omnipresent on the pitch. Despite his sin-binning, Best's Lions stock rose this weekend.
3. Mike Ross (Ireland)
Ross celebrated signing a new deal with the Irish Rugby Football Union with a solid display to help overpower the Welsh in the first half and deny them a famous comeback in the second.
4. Mike McCarthy (Ireland)
The soon-to-be Leinster lock put in a great performance in front of the watching Warren Gatland. He made 18 tackles, without missing one, and carried well.
5. Geoff Parling (England)
While he is widely regarded as a great lineout operator, Parling also bagged a try against Scotland. He always plays the full 80 for Lancaster and should clear his summer schedule as he should be on Lions duty.
6. Tom Wood (England)
A lot of what Wood does goes unseen but he was the outstanding back-rower on show at Twickenham on Saturday. He is the perfect foil to Chris Robshaw and could yet get the nod for the Lions
7. Sean O'Brien (Ireland)
He made an astonishing 23 tackles and got the better of Wales rival Sam Warburton. He has been out of the loop recently on the Test stage due to injury but O'Brien is back to his best.
8. Toby Faletau (Wales)
Wales' star performer, Faletau came close to scoring a try and made 66 metres with the ball in hand - a top showing.
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