Lions Watch: Team of the Week
September 24, 2012
Nick Easter was superb for Harlequins in their win over Leicester on Saturday © PA Photos
With the Aviva Premiership, RaboDirect PRO12 and Top 14 campaigns all underway, 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 Keatley (Munster)
The Munster fullback shone for the province in their 33-13 win over the Dragons and made some noise as an alternative for the superb Rob Kearney in the Ireland side.
14. George North (Scarlets)
The monster wing scored a late try for the Scarlets in their 23-16 loss to the Ospreys and was a constant threat throughout.
13. Keith Earls (Munster)
A man of the match display from Earls against the Dragons pressed his claim for starting in his preferred outside centre position week in week out after flirting with fullback and the flanks.
12. Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues)
The Lions centre was on fire for Cardiff and scored his first try in more than two years for the Blues in a match which marked his comeback from injury.
11. Fionn Carr (Leinster)
He's yet to play for Ireland but was the star of the show alongside Johnny Sexton for Leinster in their win over Edinburgh.
10. Freddie Burns (Gloucester)
Burns was the architect behind Gloucester's 29-22 win over Wasps. The fly-half berth is up for grabs on the international scene and he could feature for England come the November Tests.
9. Joe Simpson (Wasps)
He took the game to Gloucester and was Wasps' main threat. He was unlucky not to grab a try on a couple of occasions but did his England claims no harm with a solid performance.
1. Duncan Jones (Ospreys)
The veteran loose-head destroyed the Scarlets' scrum with a powerful performance. He last played for Wales in 2007 but it will be hard for the hierarchy to ignore him for much longer if he continues to play in this vein.
2. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
There were no real standout performances from the hookers this weekend but Hartley was solid throughout their game with the Warriors and hit his men in the lineout on a consistent basis.
3. Carl Rimmer (Exeter Chiefs)
The Exeter tight-head more than held his own against a resolute Sarries front-row. He has only played for the Chiefs twice in the Premiership but should add many more games to this tally in the coming season.
4. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
The powerful England lock played at blindside for the Saints but in his first game for months, Lawes marked the occasion with a try and a man-of-the-match showing.
5. Tom Savage (Gloucester)
Savage was Gloucester's star player against Wasps and aged just 23, he could evolve into a mainstay for both club and country over the years.
6. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys)
Another solid performance from the man who is pushing Sam Warburton all the way in the Wales set-up.
7. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
Quins are four from four in the Premiership and Robshaw is having another superb campaign - a real contender for the Lions team.
8. Nick Easter (Harlequins)
Quins boss Conor O'Shea called for Easter to earn an England recall after witnessing a brilliant performance from the 34-year-old against the Tigers on Saturday.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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