Lions Watch: The final reckoning
April 29, 2013
Leicester and England centre Manu Tuilagi has been the most consistent performer this season according to our Lions Watch feature © PA Photos
Over the course of the season we have brought you our choice of the form British and Irish players on a weekly basis with our Lions Watch feature.
On the eve of the official British & Irish Lions squad announcement, we have dusted of the abacus to calculate which players have caught our eye the most over the course of the campaign.
Will the players we have singled out for praise on the back of domestic and international performances get the nod from Lions coach Warren Gatland? Stay tuned to ESPNscrum on Tuesday morning to find out.
15. Leigh Halfpenny (Blues & Wales)
The Cardiff Blues and Wales fullback is widely regarded as the most consistent performers on the northern hemisphere stage as his eight selections reflect. Leinster & Ireland's Ian Madigan, Harlequins & England's Mike Brown and Glasgow & Scotland's Stuart Hogg were his only real rivals for this spot.
14. George North (Dragons & Wales)
The Dragons and Wales winger powers his way into our line-up on the back of a string of impressive displays - six of which earned him selection in our Team of the Week. His Welsh team-mate, Blues & Wales winger Alex Cuthbert, Ulster & Ireland's Tommy Bowe and Munster & Ireland's Simon Zebo also earned multiple nominations and may all find themselves on the plane to Australia.
13. Manu Tuilagi Leicester & England)
Tuilagi has been the most consistent performer on the northern hemisphere stage over the course of the entire season - according to our reckoning. Leinster & Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Scarlets & Wales' Jonathan Davies comes a distant second.
12. Brad Barritt (Saracens & England)
England's defensive general, Barritt appeared in our side six times this season to edge out Blues & Wales centre Jamie Roberts with the form of Edinburgh & Scotland's Matt Scott also earning recognition on a regular basis.
11. Christian Wade (London Wasps)
Wade may be a better bet to earn selection for England's tour of Argentina but there can be no doubt he has been in dazzling form this season. His efforts saw him outscore Edinburgh & Scotland's Tim Visser, Saracens & England's Chris Ashton, Ulster & Ireland's Craig Gilroy and Saracens & England's David Strettle.
10. Owen Farrell (Saracens & England)
Farrell may have been given a bit of a lesson by veteran Jonny Wilkinson in his most recent appearance, but his form over the course of the season sees him edge out his main Lions rival - Leinster & Ireland's Jonathan Sexton and fellow England playmakers Toby Flood and Freddie Burns.
9. Danny Care (Harlequins & England)
Bayonne & Wales' Mike Phillips may be favourite to wear the Lions' No.9 shirt but Care was by far the most dominant scrum-half according to our selections. Leicester & England's Ben Youngs and Munster & Ireland's Conor Murray mounted a significant challenge.
1. Tom Court (Ulster & Ireland)
Court's efforts for his province and country see him edge out a Lions favourite - Leinster & Ireland's Cian Healy. Saracens & England's Mako Vunipola and Glasgow & Scotland's Ryan Grant pushed them close.
2. Richard Hibbard (Ospreys & Wales)
By far the most impressive hooker over the course of the season, Hibbard's efforts helped to propel Wales to the Six Nations crown. Ulster & Ireland's Rory Best was hot on his heels with Northampton & England's Dylan Hartley some way ahead of his Leicester & England rival Tom Youngs in the pecking order.
3. Dan Cole (Leicester & England)
Another outstanding performer, Cole gets the nod just ahead of Leinster & Ireland's Mike Ross with both worthy of significant praise. Ospreys & Wales' Adam Jones was some way off the pace.
4. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys & Wales)
A rock at the heart of Wales' successful bid for Six Nations glory, Jones edges out Wasps & England's Joe Launchbury with both in line for Lions honours. Munster & Ireland's Donnacha Ryan and former England and Saracens lock Steve Borthwick also delivered on a regular basis.
5. Geoff Parling (Leicester & England)
Parling is considered an outsider for the Lions squad but his consistency and lineout authority may be difficult to ignore. Munster & Ireland's Paul O'Connell made a late run at this spot and would surely have made it his own if not for chronic injury issues.
6. Tom Wood (Northampton & England)
Wood is another not expected to get a Lions call - such is the strength in depth available in the back-row. Injuries hampered the efforts of Dragons & Wales' Dan Lydiate and Leicester & England's Tom Croft but it is they and not Wood who can expect a call from Gatland.
7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys & Wales)
The industrious flanker outplayed his Wales rival Sam Warburton for much of the season and it is reflected in our calculations. England captain Chris Robshaw is a little unlucky to miss out on this selection given his high standards with his Lions chances also hanging in the balance.
8. Jamie Heaslip (Leinster & Ireland)
Wales' Toby Faletau may be the favourite to lay claim to the Lions' No.8 shirt but he could not compete with the consistency offered by Heaslip and Harlequins and former England international Nick Easter.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape