Monday 23 April 2018

After three rounds of the Six Nations, here is the Independent.ie Team of the Tournament

Eight Irishmen, four Welsh and a sole representative from Scotland, Italy and England.

Johnny Sexton, Jack McGrath and Paul O'Connell all feature in our Team of the Tournament.
Johnny Sexton, Jack McGrath and Paul O'Connell all feature in our Team of the Tournament.
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

Three games in and the 2015 RBS Six Nations has really taken shape, with Ireland the only unbeaten team so far. Here is our Team of the Tournament with two games remaining.

Each week we have chosen our Team of the Week and the criteria for our side was that a player had to be named in the chosen position on at least one of the three team selections so far.

Here is the team we have selected.

15. Rob Kearney (Ireland)

Lions rival Leigh Halfpenny has been Kearney's closest challenger, but the Leinster full-back hasn't put a foot wrong all tournament and rock solid under a high ball.

14. George North (Wales)

The winger made a welcome return in the victory over Wales after sitting out the clash at Edinburgh following a head injury in the opening game.

One of the most powerful runners in world rugby and will be severely tested next time out against Tommy Bowe.

Wales George North is tackled during the RBS Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France
Wales George North is tackled during the RBS Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

13. Jonathan Joseph (England)

Mathieu Bastareaud and Mark Bennett were the other two to make the 13 jersey theirs on our Team of the Week selections, but despite a disappointing performance in Dublin, is still the tournament's top scorer.

His outings against Wales and Italy should not be consigned to history because of an off-day for the entire team.

12. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)

The Connacht player has grown exponentially with each outing in a green jersey. Has put in more tackles than any other Irish player and managed his first international try against England. Incredible work rate to complement handling skills.

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Robbie Henshaw of Ireland touches down the ball to score the opening try despite the efforts of Alex Goode of England during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland

11. Simon Zebo (Ireland)

Defensive question marks nothing but a distant memory. Aerially supreme against England, what is noticeable is his positioning and reading of the game under Joe Schmidt's guidance. Will hopefully get more opportunities to showcase his attacking nous in the final two games.

10. Jonathan Sexton (Ireland)

Perhaps the easiest selection on the team. Missed the Italy game with his 12 week absence through concussion protocols, but has been exemplary against France and England. The best tackling 10 since Johnny Wilkinson.

9. Conor Murray (Ireland)

Morgan Parra demonstrated against Wales why he is the better option at nine than Rory Kockott, while Rhys Webb and Ben Youngs up until Sunday have had their moments, but the Munster number nine is currently in a league of his own.

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While Conor Murray admitted the prospect of a Grand Slam is a tantalising prospect, he says the squad will do their best not to get carried away.

A kicking game that is second to none, a defensive colossus when called upon and the eye for gap (as highlighted with Henshaw's crucial try last time out); he and Sexton form the deadliest half-back partnership currently on show.

1. Jack McGrath (Ireland)

France's Eddy Ben Arous, English prop Joe Marler and Jack McGrath have been the three named in our Team of the Week's thus far and the Leinster man gets the nod for filling in for Cian Healy with ease.

Has held his own in the scrum and a boasts highly impressive tackle count.

2. Ross Ford (Scotland)

Rory Best put in a sensational performance last Sunday, but the Scottish hooker has been in good form regardless of the fact Vern Cotter's men have lost all three games.

The set-piece almost propelled Scots to victory in France and when Ford departed against Italy the lineout clearly wobbled.

3. Samson Lee (Wales)

Adam Jones may have left the scene but the Welsh may have uncovered another scrummaging machine. Not many packs leave France in the shade, particularly at the Stade de France, but Lee looks very much at home at Test level.

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Wales' Samson Lee

4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)

Devin Toner can consider himself very unfortunate to miss out, but the Welsh lock has been one of Warren Gatland's star performers. Led the fight at Murrayfield in their narrow win over the Scots and his leadership qualities were to the fore in Paris.

Duel with Paul O'Connell will be key in Cardiff.

5. Paul O'Connell (Ireland)

Toner is now the main lineout option, but nobody inspires his team-mates quite like the Munster skipper.

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DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Ben Youngs of England has his clearance kick charged down by Paul O'Connell of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Outstanding against France when the game was in the melting pot, Schmidt's decision to give the lock the skipper's armband was a masterstroke.

6. Peter O'Mahony (Ireland)

James Haskell began in blistering form in Cardiff and continued that into the Italy match, but like many of his team-mates, came a cropper at the Aviva. The Munster captain is already one of the pack leaders and has gone about his business unfussed.

One of Ireland's most consistent performers.

7. Sam Warbuton (Wales)

Sean O'Brien has had his injury woes while Bernard le Roux has been average in some decidedly average team performances from Philippe Saint Andre's charges. Chris Robshaw struggled badly in Dublin, but Welsh skipper Sam Warbuton has been a big influence on Wales' championship revival.

A particularly strong performance in Paris, the flanker is getting somewhat closer to the form that saw him named as Lions captain two years ago.

8. Sergio Parisse (Italy)

Italy's 'Captain Fantastic' continues to light up the Six Nations in a side that struggles to make any tangible progression in the competition.

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Italy's N°8 Sergio Parisse is tackled during the Six Nations International Rugby Union match between Italy and Ireland at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on February 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYSGABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

His ball-carrying lifts those around him and while Billy Vunipola has caught the eye with swatting aside would-be tacklers, Parisse is the more rounded footballer.

Online Editors

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