Lions Watch: Team of the Week
October 8, 2012
Jonathan Joseph did his international ambitions no harm with an all-action display in London Irish's win over Northampton © 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. Ian Madigan (Leinster)
Madigan's selection at fullback for his side's clash with Munster may have been a surprise but he still delivered an eye-catching display. A constant threat with the ball in hand he also bagged a try.
14. Tom Biggs (Bath)
The winger with flaxen hair and nimble feet was a constant danger for Bath against their west country rivals Gloucester. He also made a number of telling contributions in defence.
13. Jonathan Joseph (London Irish)
A barn-storming display as London Irish humbled league leaders Northampton Saints with a 39-17 win. He scored the first of four tries at the Madjeski Stadium and was a point of reference for the Exiles.
12. Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors)
Bit of a bolter this one, but the Scot was on target with six penalties as Glasgow left the Cardiff Arms Park with an 18-3 win and was also key to keeping Jamie Roberts quiet throughout.
11. Morgan Stoddart (Scarlets)
In his first appearance since breaking his leg in Wales' World Cup warm-up against England last year, Stoddart offered a reminder of his best in a second half cameo against the Dragons that included a try.
10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster)
The Leinster playmaker won his showdown with Ireland and Munster rival Ronan O'Gara at Lansdowne Road. His 15-point haul helped propel Leinster to their fourth victory of the campaign and score a morale-boosting win ahead of the start of their defence of the Heineken Cup crown.
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
Back in the starting line-up and back on the scoresheet as Leicester ran out 20-8 victors away to Sale. He may not have last the full 80 minutes, but his performance would have left Tigers' director of rugby Richard Cockerill and England head coach Stuart Lancaster happy men.
1. Andrew Sheridan (Toulon)
The England international loose-head was another to warm-up for the start of the Heineken Cup with an eye-catching display as his side dismantled Biarritz in the Top 14.
2. David Paice (London Irish)
Put in a good afternoon's work in London Irish's win over Northampton and capped his efforts when he wiggled over for a try just before half-time.
3. Mike Ross (Leinster)
The Ireland international shared in his province's PRO12 victory over Munster to which he contributed greatly with a power-packed display.
4. Donnacha Ryan (Munster)
He may have finished on the losing side against domestic rivals Leinster, but Ryan's performance was another that means Munster fans are worrying less and less about Paul O'Connell's absence.
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys)
Another player who is helping the PRO12 champions rediscover some form after a terrible start to the season. He kept Italy second-row Quintin Geldenhuys quiet in the line-out to maintain a steady supply of ball.
6. Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)
Johnson was at the heart of their 42-28 victory over Harlequins, was key to turning over ball and keeping the likes of Chris Robshaw and Nick Easter quiet.
7. Steffon Armitage (Toulon)
Armitage's great form continues. He scored a try and was his usual barn-storming self as Toulon recorded their sixth win from six against Biarritz that keeps his side first in the Top 14.
8. Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys)
Rolling back the years down in south Wales, the versatile Thomas packed down at No.8 and grabbed himself a first-half try as Ospreys left Italy with a 34-16 victory against Zebre.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton pays a visit to Oxford University Women's Rugby Football Club who have recently made headlines across the world, from Tokyo to New York
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points