Lions Watch: Team of the Week
October 1, 2012
Harlequins' Mike Brown gets to grips with Sarries' Alex Goode © 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. Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Brown came up against his nearest rival for the England full-back shirt and he came out on top against Alex Goode to underline his claims ahead of the autumn internationals.
14. Tommy Bowe (Ulster)
The Ireland winger bagged two tries in Ulster's 48-19 thrashing of Cardiff Blues as the Irish province paid tribute to the late Nevin Spence. At his best Bowe remains the most all-round winger the Lions possess.
13. Matt Smith (Leicester Tigers)
The Leicester Tigers centre filled in for Manu Tuilagi with aplomb against Exeter. Uncapped by England, he won't be high on the Lions' list but a huge amount can change in a season.
12. Brad Barritt (Saracens)
The South African-born centre was a solid, stabilising presence in attack and defence for Saracens as they defeated Harlequins. But will it be enough to win back his spot in England's midfield?
11. Adam Thompstone (Leicester Tigers)
Like Smith, Thompstone may be way down the Lions pecking order but you can't ignore a hat-trick on debut in front of the home fans just 24 hours after being called into the squad.
10. Owen Farrell (Saracens)
After a rough start to the season Farrell bounced back with great assurance and maturity in kicking Sarries to victory against Harlequins at the Stoop. His all-round game was not exceptional but his nerve was impressive.
9. Danny Care (Harlequins)
The scrum-half set the tempo at the base of the ruck which was instrumental in Harlequins' attacking game against Saracens. Surely in pole position to be England's No.9 this autumn.
1. Joe Marler (Harlequins)
The Quins prop, shorn of his trade-mark Mohawk haircut, gave Rhys Gill a tough time at the Stoop and was his ever-combative self in the loose.
2. Richard Hibbard (Ospreys)
The Ospreys hooker crossed for a try and put in a powerful all-round display against Munster. He remains behind Matthew Rees in the Welsh set up but a strong showing in the autumn internationals could catapult him into the Lions reckoning.
3. David Wilson (Bath)
Wilson celebrated his call up to the England elite players' squad this week by scoring a terrific try against Sale, showing he has the ball-carrying power to compliment his technical skills in the scrum.
4. Mike McCarthy (Connacht)
The 30-year-old, who made his Ireland debut last year and has since won a further three caps, was a major force behind Connacht's heavy win over Heineken Cup champions Leinster.
5. Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers)
Parling is one of the top lineout exponents in the Aviva Premiership and has swiftly established himself England's leading lock and a strong contender for a place on the plane to Australia. Another strong display against Exeter.
6. Lewis Evans (Dragons)
Evans was superb for the Dragons and managed to patch up the early loss of Dan Lydiate. He's their skipper for this season and is leading from the front.
7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys)
The Ospreys openside is fast becoming a accomplished exponent at the breakdown and his scavenging skills will surely be put to the test in the autumn internationals, from the bench or from a starting role.
8. Chris Henry (Ulster)
The Ireland back-row was a key component of Ulster's forward pack as they dominated the Blues at Cardiff Arms Park.
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