Euro stage puts players in the Lions frame
April 8, 2013
Jonny Wilkinson rolled back the years to put Leicester to the sword © Getty Images
At the end of the month Warren Gatland will name his squad for the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia and with only those still in the European frame playing over the weekend, it was a great opportunity for players to get one up on their rivals. Gatland also took to the road as he watched five games in four days as he hones in on his final squad.
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.
So who has made our latest Team of the Week?
15. Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Although Harlequins eventually came undone against Munster, Brown was their main attacking threat. He enjoyed one memorable run from his own 22 and put in some solid hits. Leicester's Mathew Tait also put in a notable showing.
14. Chris Ashton (Saracens)
The winger continues to return to his best form and went over for another try as Saracens maintained their red-hot form with a Heineken Cup win over Ulster at Twickenham.
13. James Downey (Munster)
The ex-Northampton Saints centre was immense in defence as he powered back wave after wave of attempted Quins attacks. He seems to have settled in nicely at Thomond Park and should push on next season.
12. Ian Madigan (Leinster)
Despite playing at fly-half against Wasps, we had to find a way to fit the Leinster back into the team. His return of 32 points against the Premiership side proved to be the difference between the two sides and he is making the right noises about being Jonathan Sexton's long-term replacement at No.10 for Leinster.
11. Christian Wade (London Wasps)
He ended up on the losing side, but once again showed what a threat he is with the ball in hand and space in front of him. He got the scoring going in the first minute and added a second soon after when he rounded half of the Leinster backline.
10. Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon)
His man-of-the-match showing against Leicester gave Gatland a timely reminder of his longevity. He slotted five penalties and another drop-goal to guide Toulon into the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup.
9. Conor Murray (Munster)
He outshone his rival for a Lions spot Danny Care and did not put a foot wrong against Harlequins.
1. Cian Healy (Leinster)
Healy got the edge on the Wasps scrum and put down a marker in front of the watching Gatland for that Lions loose-head berth.
Paul O'Connell salutes the Munster faithful after a titanic performance © Getty Images
2. Mike Sherry (Munster)
Munster successfully disrupted the Quins lineout and Sherry managed to keep his part of the bargain by hitting the necessary targets.
3. Mike Ross (Leinster)
He was a powerful presence for the deposed European champions and he scored a try for good measure as Leinster held on in a breathless 80 minutes against London Wasps.
4. Steve Borthwick (Saracens)
The Sarries skipper led from the front against Ulster and was dominant all over the field. A really impressive showing from the lock while Toulon's Nick Kennedy also warrants a mention.
5. Paul O'Connell (Munster)
The British and Irish performance of the weekend - O'Connell was just immense. He took the Man of the Match award and now looks certain to travel to Australia.
6. Peter O'Mahony (Munster)
The Munster pack excelled against Harlequins and were a nuisance at the breakdown. O'Mahony was at the forefront of their endeavours and could yet be in the Lions mix.
7. Will Fraser (Saracens)
Fraser scored Saracens' first try and went through a heap of work at the breakdown as the north Londoners reached the Heineken Cup semi-finals. Munster's Tommy O'Donnell also warrants a mention.
8. James Coughlan - (Munster)
Yet another inclusion for a member of the Munster pack, but he was just too good. Coughlan will not be in the Lions mix but he could make his debut for Ireland in the summer.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September