RUCK’S Team Of The Week: Greig Laidlaw, Billy Vunipola, Liam Williams…
The RUCK Team of the Week (TOTW) is released by us each Sunday and represent players that have played best in our opinion the previous week.
Fullback: LIAM WILLIAMS (Wales)
Wearing a scrum cap to protect cut head and he stood out. The fullback displayed aerial acrobatics galore as he took high ball after high ball with ease and was unlucky not to get a corner try as Wales eased past France 19-10 on Friday evening. He is getting back to full form and fitness and almost got away on a couple of occasions.
Wing: ANTHONY WATSON (England)
For all Ireland’s Gaelic football prowess, Watson looked the best player in the battle for aerial supremacy. The winger then dotted down a deserved try in the second half at a crucial time for Eddie Jones’ men.
Centre: MICHELE CAMPAGNARO (Italy)
Italy ace Michele Campagnaro was the Azzurri best attacker throughout their clash with Scotland, leading the charge with some great carries while also landing some signficant tackles in defence.
Centre: JEAN DE VILLIERS (Leicester Tigers)
It was Jean de Villiers’s first Welford Road start and the former South Africa captain, partnering Manu Tuilagi at centre, put in a performance of the highest quality as Leicester romped to a 47-20 win against London Irish on Sunday.The centre rolled back the years with a number of pin-point passed before completing his display with a well-deserved try.
Wing: TOM COLLINS (Northampton)
Tom Collins scored his first senior hat-trick as Northampton ran out 38-18 winners in a ding-dong battle with Worcester at Franklin’s Gardens. The 21-year-old showed electric pace and clever feet to help Saints to a much-needed bonus point win and avenge their opening-day defeat against the Warriors
Fly-half: GARETH STEENSON (Exeter Chiefs)
Gareth Steenson stole the show as he scored 21 points in Exeter’s victory over Bath in the latest West Country Derby at Sandy Park on Sunday. The fly-half’s four penalties and two conversions took his Premiership tally to over 1,000 points, with his kicks being vital to seeing off a resilient Bath side.
Scrum-half: GREIG LAIDLAW (Scotland)
The scrum-half has shown superb leadership since taking over the captaincy and led the Scots’ with aplomb as they overcame Italy 36-20 on Saturday. Combine that with his defensive work as well as his kicking display, which saw him bag 21 points, and it’s easy to understand why he edged into our TOTW ahead of the also exceptional Gareth Davies for Wales. .
Prop: ALASDAIR DICKINSON (Scotland)
Dickinson continually had the upper hand on his opposite number at scrum time and won his side more than a few key penalties as the game went on.
Hooker: GUILHEM GUIRADO (France)
The French captain put in a real warriors performance as his side went down in Cardiff. He was magnificent from start to finish.
Prop: WILLEM NEL (Scotland)
Like Dickinson, Nel constantly had his opposite number marching backwards on Saturday. The prop also threw himself at the breakdown with real purpose, helping the Scots’ retain possession when it looked as if they were about to be turned over.
Lock: MARO ITOJE (England)
Maro Itoje, who was England’s top tackler on his debut, made an exceptional first senior international start. The Sarries lock carried aggressively and contributed significantly in the line-out, supporting George Kruis, who was superb again. Dare Eddie Jones drop him against Wales.
Lock: ALUN WYN JONES (Wales)
The Ospreys lock finished the match with a bandage after he sustained a second-half knock. He was not as effective as in other games but he still performed well with a number of powerful breaks and key turnovers.
Flanker: JOHN BARCLAY (Scotland)
Barclay is in a great patch of form and must have covered every blade of grass a few times in Rome on Saturday. He is quickly becoming one of the best flankers in Europe and capped his fine display with a deserved try.
Flanker: JOSH VAN DER FLIER (Ireland)
The flanker got off to a flier on debut. His brilliant effort in defence saw him end as the game’s top tackler while his efforts in attack were also considerable as he threatened England throughout.
Number 8: BILLY VUNIPOLA (England)
Nevermind man of the match, the Sarries back-rower has been the player of the championship so far. Vunipola was exceptional as England came from behind to overcome Ireland on Saturday with his powerful carries and is now well on the way to being marked ‘world class’.