Lions Watch: Team of the Week
December 17, 2012
Dan Biggar shone against Toulouse © Getty Images
The Heineken Cup took centre stage once again this weekend as countdown to the eagerly-awaited British & Irish Lions tour to Australia continued.
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. But luckily there is still 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.
15. Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
It was an assured performance by the England back against Ulster as he fielded their box kicks and managed to get some solid yards with ball in hand.
14. Shane Monahan (Gloucester)
Yes his tries came in the Amlin Challenge Cup but when you get four - against another Aviva Premiership side - then you have to earn a place in the XV. Munster's Simon Zebo warrants an honourable mention.
13. Brad Barritt (Saracens)
The England centre was solid in defence against Munster and made some good yards with ball in hand - a real contender for a place on the Lions tour.
12. Tom May (Northampton Saints)
The versatile back was a calm head in the Saints backline and was a key cog in their win over Ulster. Although he squandered a good try-scoring opportunity, May kept the team moving around with his accurate distribution.
11. Eli Walker (Ospreys)
He scored a superb try against Toulouse and kept the French team's defence peddling back whenever he attacked the space in front of him. Could yet be a Lions bolter.
10. Dan Biggar (Ospreys)
It was an immensely measured performance by the man tipped by many to be the right choice to replace the injured Rhys Priestland at fly-half for Wales. He slotted 12 points against Toulouse and was accurate from the boot when required.
9. Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)
The scrum-half kept the backs moving around and constantly shifted the point of attack. A really good performance from the England international.
Montpellier's Johnnie Beattie put in a huge performance against Cardiff © Getty Images
1. Matt Stevens (Saracens)
Stevens is retired from Test rugby but he had the better of the Munster front-row and won a key penalty in the last few minutes of the match to ease the pressure on their tryline.
2. Richard Hibbard (Ospreys)
Hibbard hit every lineout against Toulouse and also put in a good showing in the loose making eight tackles.
3. Will Collier (Harlequins)
The Premiership champions never had to get out of second gear against Zebre and eventually ran in a half-century of points. While they cantered through the match, Collier's performance was impressive against a physical Italian front-row.
4. Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers)
Leicester managed to grasp victory from the jaws of defeat against Treviso and it was a match dominated by the pack. Deacon, seemingly out of the England set-up, shone in the Tigers' second-row.
5. Nathan Hines (Clermont Auvergne)
Former Leinster lock Hines dismantled the Irish province's second-row and helped the Top 14 club to their memorable win in the Aviva Stadium. He has formed a superb partnership with Jamie Cudmore and could well take his spot on the plane to Australia next summer.
6. George Kruis (Saracens)
Although he is predominantly a lock, Kruis lined up at blindside against Munster and put in a huge performance.
7. James Scaysbrook (Exeter Chiefs)
One of Europe's most underrated flankers, Scaysbrook was superb against the Scarlets. He scored a late try for the Chiefs and was a constant presence around the breakdown. Toulon's Steffon Armitage also put in an impressive performance against Sale.
8. Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier)
Scotland's forgotten No.8 destroyed the Blues from the back of the scrum on Saturday evening and even managed to cross for a try.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
England must find a way to improve their game by tiny margins and they will get there, writes Phil Vickery
"England remind me of a PlayStation rugby team," John Mitchell on tactics and the search for a first-choice fly-half ahead of the World Cup
Augustine Pulu will return home with little more than 20 minutes rugby in one month on tour. It is time for more midweek games writes Craig Dowd
Samoa's Sivi Tau says the team "come completely prepared", the reality is a world away. Seilala Mapusua on Samoa and building a future