Team of the Week
February 6, 2012
Wales' George North celebrates claiming a place in our Six Nations - Team of the Week © Getty Images
Brad Barritt Rory Best Mouritz Botha Dan Cole Alex Corbisiero Jonathan Davies David Denton Thierry Dusautoir Charlie Hodgson Julien Malzieu Andrea Masi George North Pascal Pape Mike Phillips Louis Picamoles
As the dust settles on the first round of Six Nations action, we cast an eye across the weekend to pick our latest Team of the Week.
France laid down an early marker in despatching Italy in Paris while England kick off their title defence with a hard-fought victory over Scotland in Edinburgh. Wales and Ireland then raised the bar somewhat in Dublin where the visitors squeezed home - but amid all that fanfare and ferocity, which player caught the eye?
15. Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
The 23-year-old Welshman not only displayed nerves of steel to kick his side to a famous victory over the Irish in Dublin but also showed his versatility with a seamless switch to wing from fullback in the second half - expect big things from him in the weeks to come.
14. Julien Malzieu (France)
In his first Test match appearance since June 2010, Malzieu was at his game-breaking best with one outstanding burst in particular accounting for five Italian defenders and ending with what may well end up being the 'Try of the Six Nations'.
13. Jonathan Davies (Wales)
It must be fun running off the shoulder of the likes of powerhouses Jamie Roberts and George North but Davies was still had to be in the right place at the right time for his two tries.
12. Brad Barritt (England)
Switched into the No.12 shirt for the purposes of our selection, Barritt made an impressive international debut against the Scots - racking up a bone-crunching 11 tackles when combined with his general industry makes him a serious rival for a spot we thought would belong to Manu Tuilagi.
11. George North (Wales)
Lining up in the No.11 jersey associated with the legendary and recently-retired Shane Williams, North took a giant step towards securing superstar status himself against an Irish side that had little answer to his hypnotic blend of power, pace and skill.
10. Charlie Hodgson (England)
Hodgson makes the grade thanks to a solid if not spectacular display against the Scots at Murrayfield that included a crucial charge down and try that ensured the Stuart Lancaster era kicked off with a win. He was also helped by some high-profile errors from rivals Rhys Priestland (Wales) and Dan Park (Scotland).
9. Mike Phillips (Wales)
A typically abrasive performance from the Welsh No.9 whose lack of game time for Bayonne across the Channel appears to be his country's benefit. Pumped up throughout, he even managed to pip North to the official man of the match honour - not sure about that.
1. Alex Corbisiero (England)
Back in the England starting line-up, the New York-born Corbisiero made the most of his opportunity with a busy performance punctuated by a dozen or so tackles and the odd turnover. Typified England's general all-round effort.
2. Rory Best (Ireland)
The Irish hooker was rewarded for a solid showing at the lineout and in the loose with a rare try that helped propel his side into an unlikely half-time lead but was unable to hold back the tide in the second half.
3. Dan Cole (England)
Another Englishman happy to put his body on the line for his team-mates and his coach and also did not shirk his duties in the scrum.
4. Pascal Pape (France)
A rock-solid lineout option who's is also not averse to taking the attack to his rivals as was the case at the Stade de France. A formidable sight when afforded the time and space to build up a head of steam.
5. Mouritz Botha (England)
Another of England's tackle-hungry trojans who was clearly determined to nail down his place in the side. A reliable lineout presence but will be keen to make more of an impact in the loose next time out.
6. Thierry Dusautoir (France)
The French skipper shows no signs of resting on his laurels having captured the International Rugby Board Player of the Year honour in the wake of his side's World Cup exploits. It may not have been his most spectacular display for Les Bleus but he does not do average.
Rampaged his way through the Italian defence at the Stade de France with a commanding display at No.8 but switched to the flank in our line-up. A superb lesson in power running but underlined his outstanding rugby brain to act as a key link man.
8. David Denton (Scotland)
Alongside North, arguably THE player of the opening round of action. Produced a sensational performance and his barnstorming runs caused England problems all day long - just a shame it was in defeat.
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