Heineken Cup - Team of the Tournament
May 21, 2012
Leinster playmaker Jonathan Sexton claims the No.10 shirt in our Team of the Tournament © Getty Images
As the dust settles on the latest battle for the Heineken Cup crown, we select our Team of the Tournament.
Unsurprisingly, our line-up has a distinct Leinster flavour after the Irish province claimed their third European title in four years and going unbeaten in the process, but they don't get it all their own way.
Check out our selection below and let us know your thoughts on our choices.
15. Rob Kearney (Leinster) - Arguably the player of the tournament, the Irish international was back to his best with six tries, a long-range drop goal in the semi-finals and a tone-setting claim in the opening moments of the final indicative of his form and confidence.
14. Timoci Matanavou (Toulouse) - The French giants may have bowed out at the quarter-final stage at the hands of Edinburgh, but the Fijian-born flyer still finished top of the try-scoring charts with eight - including a brace to help burst Quins' bubble before Christmas.
13. Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster) - He may have only dusted off his boot in March, but a relatively-fresh O'Driscoll still managed to leave a significant impression on the tournament with a try against the Blues in the quarter-finals and the odd piece of magic in his side's final victory over Ulster.
12. Wesley Fofana (Clermont Auvergne) - His failure to touch down for a last-gasp try against Leinster in the semi-finals may haunt him for some time but Fofana can take solace from an eye-catching campaign that included three tries that helped propel him to the international stage.
11. Tim Visser (Edinburgh) - The soon-to-be Scotland international underlined his status as one of the most potent attacking threats in the European game with the highlight a brace in an epic victory over Racing Metro at Murrayfield.
10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster) - The 26-year-old's star continues to rise after another outstanding campaign and it was his call that unlocked a resolute Clermont defence in his side's battling semi-final victory.
9. Ruan Pienaar (Ulster) - The South African playmaker was a key driving force behind Ulster's run to the final with his near-faultless kicking a joy to behold.
1. Cian Healy (Leinster) - A formidable force in the scrum and a ball of energy in the loose, Healy's efforts were rewarded with a try in the final and must have pushed team-mate Sean O'Brien for the Man of the Match honour.
2. Rory Best (Ulster) - As significant the influence of their foreign legion, it was the in-form hooker who was at the core of Ulster's quest for honours and did his chances of touring with the Lions next year no harm at all.
3. John Afoa (Ulster) - The high-profile Kiwi recruit wasted no time in making an impact on the European game, re-writing the textbook when it comes to tight-heads. Did as much as anyone to derail Leinster's run to the title with an industrious all-action display in the final.
4. Johann Muller (Ulster) - A pillar of strength in the Ulster line-up throughout a headline-grabbing season, Muller is a fine example of how foreign players can help inspire homegrown talents to reach their potential.
5. Nathan Hines (Clermont Auvergne) - The former Scotland international may have failed to make it back-to-back European titles having made the switch from Leinster to Clermont in the off-season, but he still made his presence felt for Les Jaunards.
6. Stephen Ferris (Ulster) - Another highly-deserving candidate for the ERC Player of the Year, Ferris provided much of the grunt in his province's run to the season finale - notably notching a lung-busting 19 tackles in Ulster's quarter-final upset of Munster.
7. Sean O'Brien (Leinster) - A powerhouse display from the openside helped set the tone for his side's final triumph, out-muscling rising star Chris Henry in the process. A stand-out effort that was rewarded with the Man of the Match award.
8. Netani Talei (Edinburgh) - A warrior-like presence for Edinburgh as they made history with a run to the semi-finals, his domination with ball in hand saw him rival Europe's finest backs when it came to the stats.
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