Lions Watch: Team of the Week
October 29, 2012
Wasps winger Christian Wade dives over to score one of his two tries against London Welsh © Getty Images
With the Aviva Premiership, RaboDirect PRO12 and Top 14 campaigns in full swing, the countdown to the eagerly-awaited British & Irish Lions tour to Australia is well and truly on.
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. Lions coach Warren Gatland has revealed that he is prepared to cast the selection net beyond international rugby so expect competition to be fierce.
There is 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 with many international stars yet to return to the domestic fray but the excitement is already building.
15. Nick Abendanon (Bath)
The England Saxons international may have missed out on a promotion to the senior squad earlier this week but was at his elusive best as his side saw off Exeter at The Rec.
14. George North (Scarlets)
The Wales international grabbed two first half tries as his side heaped woe on Edinburgh in their PRO12 clash at Murrayfield.
13. Manu Tuilagi (Leicester)
The Tigers centre may have been on the losing side at Kingsholm but offered several reminders of his power with ball in hand as he peppered the Gloucester defence.
12. JJ Hanrahan (Munster)
The Irish youngster, and IRB Junior World Player of the Year nominee earlier this year, marked his first start for Munster with two tries and a man-of-the-match display against Zebre in their PRO12 clash.
11. Christian Wade (London Wasps)
Apparently not yet good enough for England selection, the fleet-footed Wade added another two tries to his season tally to book his place in our line up and edge out Gloucester's James Simpson-Daniel for the No.11 shirt.
10. Freddie Burns (Gloucester)
The Gloucester playmaker was a key figure in his side's battling Premiership victory over Leicester that included a superb individual try.
9. Danny Care (Harlequins)
Another lively and timely performance from the Quins scrum-half against London Irish that included a well-taken try. The England international has good reason to relish the autumn internationals.
1. Tom Court (Ulster)
Court got in on the try-scoring act in his side's PRO12 victory over the Dragons to help preserve the Irish province's unbeaten start to the season.
2. Richardt Strauss (Leinster)
The South African-born hooker celebrated his call-up to the Ireland squad with a try-scoring performance against Cardiff Blues.
3. Dan Cole (Leicester)
A pivotal player in a dominant Tigers pack that may have been thwarted by a gutsy defensive showing from Gloucester but that could not detract from a classy showing from Cole.
4. Lewis Stevenson (Ulster)
The Ulster second row clocked up plenty of metres with the ball in hand and wasn't shy of a tackle or 18 when shackling the Dragons.
5. Dave Atwood (Bath)
The Bath lock racked up an incredible 22 tackles during his side's Premiership victory over Exeter to help deny the Chiefs at the death.
6. Tom Johnson (Exeter)
The Chiefs may have come up short against Bath at The Rec but not for the lack of effort from the England international who is building up a head of steam ahead of the autumn internationals.
7. Steffon Armitage (Toulon)
The in-form Toulon openside retains his spot in our selection following another excellent showing - this time against Bayonne with two tries helping to cement his place.
8. Jamie Heaslip (Leinster)
The Ireland international appears to be finding his best form at just the right time with two tries as his side swept Cardiff Blues aside.
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