Sport Six Nations

Friday 29 August 2014

Six Nations Team of the Tournament so far

Declan Whooley

Published 14/02/2014 | 10:15

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Jonny Sexton's fitness will be monitored
Jonny Sexton's form has been a real driving force for Ireland's opening victories.

While we are only two games in, some players have stood head and shoulders above others in this season’s Six Nations campaign.

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Ireland and France remain in the hunt for a Grand Slam, while Wales and England still harbour championship ambitions.

The Italians have been typically plucky, while from a Scottish perspective, things can only get better.

Here is out best XV at the first break in play of the Six Nations.

15. Rob Kearney (Ireland)

Stiff competition from Mike Brown, but the Irish full-back has been imperious and noticeably more fired up in recent games. Arguably the form fullback in world rugby at the minute.

14. Andrew Trimble (Ireland)

Youann Huget has looked the part at times, but the Ulster winger gets the vote. Opened the scoring against the Scots and has made a number of breaks, not always ably assisted by his teammates. Defensively, one of the soundest backs in the competition.

13. Luther Burrell (England)

Not a vintage campaign thus far for outside centres. Brian O’Driscoll has had his moments, but Burrell has shown promise in his first Six Nations campaign. Like England, not the most flash, but effective.

12. Wesley Fofana (France)

Bringing the form he shows for Clermont week-in and week-out to the international stage. A class act, Philippe Saint-Andre’s game plan does not always give him the platform to showcase his talents, but his solo try against the Italians was a reminder to the coach what he is capable of.

11. Jonny May (England)

Has added a real cutting edge to a backline that has generally been described as blunt at best. Admittedly the Scots offered little resistance, but has shown fleeting footwork in Paris and will relish the open space at Twickenham. Whether he sees enough ball is another matter.

10. Jonathan Sexton (Ireland)

The most straight forward selection on the team. Has brushed aside a disappointing season in France to reinforce his standing as the finest out-half in the Northern Hemisphere, vying only with Dan Carter as the complete 10. His goal kicking and tactical kicking is second to none and the Irish game plan runs through the Racing Metro player.

9. Danny Care (England)

Conor Murray can count himself unlucky, but the Harlequins scrum-half is in the form of his life. Care has scored drop-goals in both games, created tries, offered a defensive shield and brought a real sparkle to the English attack.

FORWARDS:

1. Cian Healy (Ireland)

After a remarkable recovery from injury, Healy has picked up where he left off as one of the most powerful looseheads in world rugby. Joe Marler has had excellent outings in Paris and Edinburgh, but the Leinster prop has offered more in broken field to complement his scrummaging.

2. Rory Best (Ireland)

Like Healy, Rory Best just edges his English counterpart Dylan Hartley who has put temperament issues behind him to become a mainstay of the English pack. Best however has carried on his form from the All Blacks match. A ball carrier, a destruction at the breakdown and an accurate thrower, integral to Irish hopes of silverware.

3. Dan Cole (England)

After a slow start in Paris, Cole has shown his worth in the set-piece and is a noted scrummager. After his last outing in Twickenham against Ireland where the Irish scrum was simply demolished, will be counting down the days to taking on Mike Ross in the front row.

4.  Courteney Lawes (England)

Not everyone’s cup of tea, but similar to Hartley has put previous indiscretions to one side to flourish into a real leader. Was one of England's leading carriers against Scotland and his aggressive tackling was notable in both games thus far. When he gets momentum in his tackling, he can be devastating.

5. Paul O'Connell (Ireland)

His massive hit on Dan Lydiate helped set the tone and, considering he is still sick, the totemic Munster second-row gave quite a display before being hauled ashore. The captain has been leading from the front again, not that he knows any other way.

6. Peter O'Mahony (Ireland)

Possibly the player of the tournament so far. Man of the match against Wales, possibly should have got the nod against Scotland and his array of talents has seen the likes of Tony Ward describe the Munster man as a ‘six and a half’ for his ability to carry, fetch and link-up play. A breakdown merchant.

7. Chris Robshaw (England)

Similar to O’Connell, Chris Robshaw leads by example in what is a formidable English pack. A real presence in the backrow, thrives on taking the game to the opposition

8. Louis Picamoles (France)

The most difficult selectionl on the team. Jamie Heaslip picked up the man-of-the-match against the Scots and was again excellent last time out against Wales, while Billy Vunipola has really caught the eye with his best Sean O’Brien impressions with ball in hand, but the French number 8 has been exceptional.

A great deal of Saint-Andre’s plan rests on Picamoles explosive carrying and ability to drag in opposition defenders. Can appear anywhere on the pitch, and always makes yardage.

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