2013 British & Irish Lions
Lions Watch: Team of the Week
December 31, 2012
Joel Tomkins was in impressive form as Saracens beat Northampton © Getty Images
The Aviva Premiership and RaboDirect PRo12 continued this week as countdown to the eagerly-awaited British & Irish Lions tour to Australia continued.
As we all tick off the days until the team depart Down Under, ESPNscrum will cast an eye across the action and pinpoint those players eligible for the elite tourists who are pushing their selection claims with strong performances. But luckily there is still a lot of rugby to be played until the squad board the plane for Hong Kong and plenty of time for hopes to rise and fall.
15. Ian Madigan (Leinster)
The young Ireland A international was in fine form at fly-half form Leinster this weekend as he helped them beat Connacht but is he also a classy full-back, which is where he sneaks into our team.
14. Tom Varndell (London Wasps)
The Wasps speedster has set his sights on an England recall and offered a reminder of his talents with the bonus point try - his 10th of the season - in his side's Premiership victory over London Welsh.
13. Joel Tomkins (Saracens)
The rugby league convert was a constant threat for Saracens against Northampton with his direct, strong running and sound decision-making in the outside channels.
12. Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers)
The ever-consistent and ever-effective Allen, who continues to court further international honours with success, scored the crucial try as Leicester saw off Gloucester in the mud of Welford Road.
11. Simon Zebo (Munster)
The Ireland winger scored his 17 try for Munster as he once again proved to be a razor sharp runner and accomplished finisher.
10. Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
After copping a very public dressing down last week, the former England fly-half delivered a composed and telling performance, based on faultless goal-kicking and an improved defensive display.
9. Danny Care (Harlequins)
Care has made huge improvements over the past 12 months, especially in his consistency and game management, but his greatest asset remains his pace and sniping around the fringes which London Irish know only too well.
Richie Gray was his usual abrasive self against Worcester © Getty Images
1. Ryan Bevington (Ospreys)
The Welsh loose-head prop played a key role for the Ospreys as he helped them gain dominance upfront that eventually led to a comfortable victory over the Scarlets.
2. Richard Hibbard (Ospreys)
After recently being described as "the finest hooker in Europe", Hibbard further enhanced his reputation as part of a superior Ospreys pack against the Scarlets.
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Another week and another dominant display from the England tight-head as Leicester's front-row scrummaged Gloucester into submission.
4. Richie Gray (Sale Sharks)
Gray scored a try and made a number of telling bursts as Sale secured a rare win over Worcester. The pressure will be on the giant lock in the coming months, with both Scotland and Sale relying on him massively.
5. Geoff Parling (Leicester)
The England lock revelled in the mud at Welford Road and produced another solid performance in the engine room. Strong claim for one of England's most consistent performers in 2012.
6. Tommy O'Donnell (Munster)
The Irish flanker put in a powerful man-of-the-match performance for Munster as the Irish province inflicted a first RaboDirect Pro12 defeat on Ulster this season.
7. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
A quite remarkable year for the England captain ended with another strong showing at Twickenham as his work-rate and leadership skills helped Quins to a narrow win over London Irish.
8. Ernst Joubert (Saracens)
The South African-born Joubert qualified for England on residency grounds earlier this season and has high hopes of forcing his way into the international set-up but could a Lions call-up come first? The 32-year-old deservedly claimed the Man of the Match honour in his side's narrow victory over Northampton.
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