Lions Watch: Team of the Week
November 19, 2012
England's Toby Flood claims the No.10 shirt in our latest selection © PA Photos
With the autumn internationals 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.
The Home Nations were some way from their best this past weekend 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. Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
Halfpenny is one of the few Wales players to have emerged with any credit in a torrid fortnight for his side. He may have been at fault for Johnny Leota's during the defeat to Samoa but remains the pick of those fullbacks gunning for the Lions' No.15 shirt.
14. Craig Gilroy (Ireland XV)
Ireland may have fielded a largely experimental line-up for their non-Test clash with Fiji but Gilroy made the most of the opportunity with a hat-trick of tries that will have given coach Declan Kidney plenty of food for thought.
13. Manu Tuilagi (England)
The England centre is certainly not the finished article and his latest outing certainly left some question marks but his strength and power remains a constant threat and brought him a try against Australia.
12. Luke Marshall (Ireland XV)
Another player to make the most of Ireland's decision to look at their options at Thomond Park, Marshall was heavily involved throughout his side romp past Fiji and capped a fine display with a try.
11. Fergus McFadden (Ireland XV)
The Leinster speedster was also among the tries against Fiji with his two scores handing coach Declan Kidney another selection poser ahead of this final autumn outing against Argentina this weekend.
10. Toby Flood
The England playmaker may not have hit top gear during his side's defeat to Australia at Twickenham but kicked well and mixed up his game while putting in his fair share of tackles.
9. Danny Care (England)
Care brought a fair amount of energy to England's attack and his bold call to tap and go led to a try for team-mate Manu Tuilagi. He could not sustain that effort but did enough to edge out his rivals for his spot.
1. Ryan Grant (Scotland)
The Glasgow loose-head did his best to stem the Springboks tide during his side's defeat at Murrayfield. A significant force in the set-piece and the loose he only has five caps to his name but looks destined for a lot more.
2. Sean Cronin (Ireland XV)
Another to catch the eye as Fiji were put to the sword in Limerick, Cronin did his international credentials no harm whatsoever with a busy display that included a try.
3. Euan Murray (Scotland)
Murray returned to the Scotland line-up for their clash against South Africa and delivered a solid if not dominant display against a formidable Bok pack.
4. Tom Palmer (England)
The England lock did his best to take the attack to Australia when afforded the opportunity and chipped in on the tackle count and the lineout.
5. Geoff Parling (England)
Assured in the lineout, he also pushed No.8 Thomas Waldrom for top tackling honour and made some significant gains with ball in hand.
6. Iain Henderson (Ireland XV)
The Ulster blindside threw his hat into the selection ring ahead of the crucial clash with the Pumas with an eye-catching performance against Fiji. A powerful runner with a bright future.
7. Chris Robshaw (England)
The England captain may have been some way from his best against the Wallabies but some better than average stats and the shortcomings of Scotland's John Barclay and Wales' Justin Tipuric ensure he claims a place in our line-up.
8. David Denton (Scotland)
Denton worked hard to thwart of sizeable South Africa pack and was a thorn in their side with ball in hand as well. Not quite back to his best but not far off.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The time for tinkering is over - England must nail their colours to the mast in key positions, writes Phil Vickery
"New Zealand-born Joe Schmidt has forged the Irish into a street-smart, well- prepared side," John Mitchell on the Irish renaissance
"I am bored of hearing 'I can't fault the effort'. Let us take that for granted and look for some quality." John Taylor writes
Reports comparing the 2014 Wallabies with their rabble-like predecessors of 2005 are unfair and self-serving, Greg Growden reports