Now that the dust has settled on the opening weekend of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup; we select the players that stood out over the weekend.
Fullback: Rob Miller (Wasps)
Winger: Leonardo Sarto (Glasgow Warriors)
In plugging the gaps caused by departures, Gregor Townsend’s latest big find has been Leonardo Sarto – although the Italian winger has always looked a good player in bad teams, he now looks a great player in a better team. Sarto scored two tries as they overcame Leicester.
Centre: Bundee Aki (Connacht)
The Connacht centre played his part in a truly superb team try, against Toulouse, and delivered his customary, all-action performance. 75 hard metres gained on 17 surging carries, three line breaks, six defenders beaten, five offloads and one crucial try.
Centre: Wesley Fofana (Clermont)
Sensational in Clermont’s win over Chiefs. Scored 2 and was too hot to handle.
Winger: Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons)
Fly-half: Owen Farrell (Saracens)
Saracens began their ECC defence with a win over French giants Toulon. Owen Farrell was the star man, producing a wonderfully controlled and controlling 80 minutes of rugby at fly-half in his first game since England’s third Test win over Australia in June.
Scrum-half: Rhys Webb (Ospreys)
Prop: Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
An impressive 10 runs and 12 tackles from the England international in their victory at Stade Mayol as his stock continues to rise. It’s going to be some battle for the starting Lions jersey but in this form he’s in pole position.
Hooker: Stuart McInally (Edinburgh)
Prop: Jake Cooper-Woolley
Lock: Joe Launchbury (Wasps)
Lock: George Kruis (Saracens)
It shows how far Kruis has come in the last couple of years that we now expect him to deliver in these big matches, but even so, his skills levels against Toulon in the second row were outstanding. Busy on both sides of the ball, including 12 tackles.
Flanker: Josh Turnbull (Cardiff Blues)
Flanker: Josh van der Flier (Leinster)
Man of the Match for Leinster in their win over Castres, on a day where the home side’s pack really delivered. The young Ireland international edges out Connacht’s Jake Heenan after his work at the breakdown and in defence set the tone for Leinster.
Number 8: James Chisholm (Harlequins)
Chisholm scored twice as Harlequins began their European Challenge Cup campaign with a comfortable 43-21 win over Stade Francais.
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