B&I LIONS RACE: Tones of emerald

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 13:38

OPINION: In this year when the British and Irish Lions go on tour, we will focus on the four Home Unions when selecting the famous rugby365 Team of the Week.

Ireland, as was to be expected, bounced back from their first round disappointment with a demolition of the hopelessly outclassed Italy.

And it is not a surprise they have the biggest representation in our weekly selection.

There are five Irish players in our first-choice selection, followed closely by England (four). Scotland and Wales (three each) also gave a healthy representation.

There is more reward for the table-topping English side, despite struggling to overcome Wales, with four more English players bubbling under.

That is matched by Wales and Scotland (four each), while Ireland have three representatives in our back-up squad.

Seven players return from last week - fullback Stuart Hogg (Scotland), centre Owen Farrell (England), wing Liam Williams (Wales), flyhalf Paddy Jackson (Ireland), No.8 Josh Strauss (Scotland), flank Christiaan Stander (Ireland) and prop Tadhg Furlong (Ireland).

B&I LIONS TEAM OF THE WEEK - ROUND TWO:

15 - Stuart Hogg (Scotland):
He has stolen a march on his rivals in the Lions selection race. At the moment it is a 'one-horse' race.
Bubbling under: Mike Brown (England)

14 - Keith Earls (Ireland):
It is not just his attacking play - which is pretty impressive, as always - but his defence that earns him a spot this week.
Bubbling under: Jack Nowell (England)

13 - Huw Jones (Scotland):
It was the cause of some lively debate, but in the end Jones' superior defensive performance saw him sneak in ahead of Jonathan Davies and Garry Ringrose.
Bubbling under: Jonathan Davies (Wales)

12 - Owen Farrell (England):
Another player who can start measuring for his B&I Lions blazer.
Bubbling under: Scott Williams (Wales)

11 - Liam Williams (Wales):
The flyer clearly knows his way to the tryline, but his workrate off the ball is just as impressive.
Bubbling under: Simon Zebo (Ireland)

10 - Paddy Jackson (Ireland):
He could be one of the bolters in the tour squad, given the Jonny Sexton's injury has afforded him an extended run.
Bubbling under: Finn Russell (Scotland)

9 - Rhys Webb (Wales):
Scrumhalves are always in the thick of things, but it is how they execute the basics that matter more.
Bubbling under: Conor Murray (Ireland)

8 - Josh Strauss (Scotland):
The South African could be part of a growing contingent of foreign-born players in the squad.
Bubbling under: Ross Moriarty (Wales)

7 - Justin Tipuric (Wales):
Giving new meaning to the phrase 'workhorse'. Not short of skill either.
Bubbling under: Hamish Watson (Scotland)

6 - Christiaan Stander (Ireland):
At this rate they may well be called the British, Irish and South African Lions.
Bubbling under: Maro Itoje (England)

5 - Courtney Lawes (England):
We clearly did not agree on this position. The veteran had another of those 'how does he do it?' days.
Bubbling under: Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)

4 - Joe Launchbury (England):
Without doubt the most impressive player of the weekend - a workrate second to none and the highest tackle count in the entire round.
Bubbling under: Richie Gray (Scotland)

3 - Tadhg Furlong (Ireland):
Could not have chosen a better time to hit such a rich vein of form.
Bubbling under: Dan Cole (England)

2 - Niall Scannell (Ireland):
Sometimes a player just need one match to make the selectors sit up and take note.
Bubbling under: Fraser Brown (Scotland)

1 - Joe Marler (England):
If he becomes a bit more consistent, he will be a shoo-in.
Bubbling under: Cian Healy (Ireland)

Our individual selections:

Ronan Calvert XV: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Christiaan Stander, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Joe Marler.

Warren Fortune XV: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Christiaan Stander, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Joe Launchbury 3 Dan Cole 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Joe Marler.

Tauriq Ebrahim XV: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Christiaan Stander, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Cian Healy.

Paul Dobson XV: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Christiaan Stander, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Jamie George, 1 Joe Marler.

Jan de Koning XV: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Christiaan Stander, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Joe Marler.

Previous selections:

B&I LIONS TEAM OF THE WEEK - ROUND ONE: 15 Stuart Hogg (Scotland), 14 George North (Wales), 13 Jonathan Davies (Wales), 12 Owen Farrell (England), 11 Liam Williams (Wales), 10 Paddy Jackson (Ireland), 9 Greig Laidlaw (Scotland), 8 Josh Strauss (Scotland), 7 Hamish Watson (Scotland), 6 Christiaan Stander (Ireland), 5 Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), 4 Richie Gray (Scotland), 3 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), 2 Rory Best (Ireland), 1 Jack McGrath (Ireland).

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