ESPNscrum's fantasy preview - Round 1
February 5, 2010
The man in form: France's Aurelien Rougerie © Getty Images
John Barclay Martin Castrogiovanni Thierry Dusautoir Thom Evans Dylan Hartley Nathan Hines Adam Jones Ryan Jones Rob Kearney Brian O'Driscoll Ronan O'Gara Morgan Parra Jamie Roberts Aurelien Rougerie Simon Shaw
The opening weekend of the Six Nations will soon be upon us and that means the opening round of ESPNscrum's fantasy rugby for 2010. As promised, we've put our collective head on the chopping block and selected our fantasy XV for the openers.
Champions Ireland face Italy at Croke Park in the first game of the tournament, followed by Wales' trip to face England at Twickenham. The round concludes at Murrayfield on Sunday, where Andy Robinson's Scotland host France.
15. Rob Kearney (Ireland) - The Lions fullback has been in fine form for Leinster and will fancy his chances against a struggling Italian side.
14. Thom Evans (Scotland) - The flying Glasgow wing missed out during the autumn but Andy Robinson's Scotland will need him to fire if they are to upset France at Murrayfield.
13. Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland) - He's rarely away from the action and while Gordon D'Arcy is in better form, it's hard to see the Irish skipper missing out against the Azzurri.
12. Jamie Roberts (Wales) - With Riki Flutey ruled out by a thigh injury, Roberts will now be aiming his considerable frame at Toby Flood as he looks to provide space for James Hook.
11. Aurelien Rougerie (France) - It's hard to think of a player in better form than the Clermont skipper, who will make his first Test appearance since 2008 against Scotland.
10. Ronan O'Gara (Ireland) - Jonny Sexton is out with injury, giving the reliable O'Gara another Six Nations start. There could well be a few conversions at Croke Park.
9. Morgan Parra (France) - In brilliant nick for Clermont, Parra has rightly been given a shot against the Scots. He'll kick some goals, too.
1. Paul James (Wales) - He's no Gethin Jenkins, but Ospreys prop Paul James will have the familiar fuzzy mane of Adam Jones alongside him at Twickenham after they ripped through Leicester in the Heineken Cup.
2. Dylan Hartley (England) - Up against the smaller Gareth Williams, Hartley will want to throw down a marker in the tight as well as the loose.
3. Martin Castrogiovanni (Italy) - Italy's Captain Caveman will have one eye trained on youthful Irish loose-head Cian Healy, who has had his problems at scrum-time.
4. Nathan Hines (Scotland) - The giant Scot will need to get his hands dirty if they are to stop a heavyweight French pack, sounds like his sort of challenge.
5. Simon Shaw (England) - It's another Six Nations for England's veteran lock, he'll need to be everywhere if they are to provide quick ball to their backline.
6. Thierry Dusautoir (France) - There's no more committed player in Europe, and his French side will need all of his grit against a fired-up Scotland.
7. John Barclay (Scotland) - The Glasgow openside will have an intriguing battle with Fulgence Ouedraogo, with his brilliant performance against Australia still fresh in the memory.
8. Ryan Jones (Wales) - The Welsh skipper has fond memories of Twickenham after 2008 and has looked quick and agile in recent weeks. His carrying ability will be vital.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
With the World Cup only a few months away, the last thing France needed was doubts over the future of their coach, writes Huw Richards
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
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