With the 2016 Six Nations having drawn to a close and England claiming the Championship from their Irish rivals it’s time to review who stood out; who put their hand up for a potential spot on the flight to New Zealand for the 2017 lions tour.
Here are my Six Nations stand outs..
1. Rob Evans
The loosehead prop has hugely improved this championship. The 23 year old has strengthened Wales’ scrum and carries hard in the loose.
2. Dylan Hartley
Dylan Hartley took over the England captaincy following their woeful World Cup. He was a controversial choice to replace Robshaw but he led by example and greatly contributed to the successful English campaign.
3. W.P. Nel
Nel was predicted to be a stand out player at this years Six Nations and he didn’t disappoint. He was pivotal to Scotland’s set piece platform of which Scotland launched the majority of their attacks.
4. George Kruis 5. Maro Itoje
The second row partnership of Kruis and Itoje cemented their place in the Red Rose line up. Kruis won many line outs against the head in matches against both Wales and France giving England some perfect opportunities to counter from. Itoje, for me, was the player of the tournament – he was the complete package; competing with the likes of Sam Warburton at the breakdown and carries the athleticism of an extra back row player. He is a Second Row any team would want.
6. Billy Vunipola
Vunipola, normally a Number 8, but could not be left out of the team, his ability to make line breaks with hard carries and aggression in defence means I would have him at blind side flanker.
7. John Hardie
The Kiwi born Scottish flanker played an important role in the revival of Scottish rugby. He made multiple turnovers throughout the championship and is defensively solid. Hardie is one to watch for the future.
8. Taulupe Faletau
Faletau and his work rate makes him, for me, the best number 8 in the Northern Hemisphere. He is relentless at the ruck, always carries and beats defenders and is rarely seen missing a tackle.
9. Danny Care
It was hard to leave the Scottish string puller, Greig Laidlaw, out of the Six Nations team but for me – Danny Care adds so much speed to the game; he has a sharp pass and is lively around the ruck, continuously putting defenders on the back foot with his snipes.
10. Dan Biggar
Fly half was a tough position to pick with none of the big names standing out. Both Sexton’s and Ford’s form dipped this Championship and despite Biggar not quite repeating his World Cup form he was the best of the bunch.
11. Anthony Watson
Watson was England’s best back. Every time he got the ball he looked dangerous and capable of beating multiple defenders.
12. Owen Farrell
Farrell, I think, has found his position at inside centre – he looked right at home and performed well as England’s second distributor as well as being reliable as always off the boot.
13. Michele Campagnaro
Despite Italy’s hammering’s in their final few games Campagnaro continued to stand out for the Wooden Spoon winners. The Exeter Chief provides something Italy have never seen before in his ability to beat defenders in broken play.
14. George North
George North, it seems, is back to his best. He scored four tries in the last four games, beat the most defenders (26) and made the most metres (468) of any man in the Six Nations.
15. Stuart Hogg
Hogg was the first name on my team sheet and I’m sure the rugby world would agree that he is one of the best full backs in the game at the moment. His speed is electric and if you give this man an inch he’ll take a mile.