British & Irish Lions Team of the Week

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It is going to be a nervous few weeks for Warren Gatland as he hopes all British & Irish Lions squad members can make the plane to New Zealand and face the All Blacks.

With the Champions Cup, Challenge Cup, PRO12 and Aviva Premiership finals to come, there is still plenty of rugby to be played and players who could miss out due to injury.

The first game of the tour is just four weeks away, so here are the players to make our British & Irish Lions team of the week.

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15. Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon)

Halfpenny was in scintillating form for Toulon in their defeat of Pau, scoring a try and kicking 12 points. With Mourad Boudjellal having given the all clear for Halfpenny to fly with the Lions even if Toulon make the Top 14 final, Warren Gatland will be a happy man.

14. George North (Northampton Saints)

North scored one try and should have had another after a brilliant 40-metre break as Northampton won with their Champions Cup rugby hanging in the balance. Gatland wouldn’t mind if North played a game less ahead of a gruelling tour.

13. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets)

Davies looked sharp in attack, grabbing over 100 metres, a try and an assist as Scarlets hammered Ospreys 40-17. He showed glimpses of his attacking threat; making breaks, beating defenders and offloading. A crunching semifinal against Leinster to come is sure to test him further.

12. Elliot Daly (Wasps)

Daly was in excellent form for Wasps, putting on the afterburners out wide to score the bonus point try that sent Wasps top of the table. He always looks to attack, has defenders guessing and even gains the odd turnover.

11. Keith Earls (Munster)

If injury should strike, Keith Earls should be in the conversation for a flight to New Zealand. His try-scoring threat, coupled with an ability to switch to centre and get through the defensive work set him apart from the rest. The semifinal and possible PRO12 final for Munster keeps him in Gatland’s shop window.

10. Freddie Burns (Leicester Tigers)

With Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell both wrapped up in cotton wool by Leinster and Saracens and Dan Biggar limping out of Ospreys defeat at Scarlets, Burns gets the nod. Solid with his kicking — not that it would be needed with Halfpenny, Farrell, Greig Laidlaw and Sexton more than capable of finishing from the tee.

9. Conor Murray (Munster)

Munster and Ireland joined Gatland in sweating over whether Murray would come through his first game in two months. With Connacht keeping an eye on their Champions Cup playoff against Northampton Saints or Gloucester, it was hardly the test it could have otherwise been. Played a half hour and passed well.


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1. Joe Marler (Harlequins)

Got through a mountain of work for Harlequins in a losing cause as competition now heats up with countryman Mako Vunipola and Ireland’s Jack McGrath for the Lions No. 1 jersey. Gets the best out of fellow Quin and soon-to-be Lion Kyle Sinckler as well. Rob Evans also impressed for Scarlets and won’t be far away from a Lions call should injuries arise.

2. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)

It could be his last match for Northampton if Gloucester are to win the Challenge Cup, but Hartley made it a memorable one with a strong performance in a close win over Harlequins. It was a timely reminder to Gatland and co. that he will be ready to hit the ground running if required in New Zealand.

3. Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)

Didn’t celebrate his 100th Harlequins game with victory but put in an almighty shift at tighthead in his final game of the season before he boards the plane to New Zealand. Even brought out the grubber kick at the weekend — he’s sure to provide a few highlights in June with his all-guns-blazing approach.

4. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)

Another whose stock continues to rise just in time for the Lions series next month. Deserved man of the match for Saints against Harlequins as the big second row led the tackle count and was strong at the lineout. One wouldn’t imagine Brodie Retallick getting his name wrong this time around.

5. Joe Launchbury (Wasps)

An absolute workhorse for Wasps in their win over Saracens. Hasn’t let the disappointment of missing Lions selection get him down as he threw his body into everything on both sides of the ball. Sure to be one of the numbers on speed dial on Warren Gatland’s phone if injuries occur.

6. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)

Has come back strongly since missing the Six Nations for England and certainly falls in the ‘unlucky’ category in missing out on the Lions squad. Was strong in a losing effort for Harlequins, leading their defensive output with 14 tackles.

7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys)

It was a day to forget for Ospreys as they were outclassed by Welsh rivals Scarlets in the Pro12 but Tipuric can hold his head high despite the result. Gave it plenty in attack and in defence while making a nuisance of himself around the breakdown as he stakes a claim for the Lions No. 7 jersey.

8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath)

Faletau failed to add to his hat-trick of tries the previous week but provided a try assist as Bath fought back from 27-10 down to push Sale close. In the end they fell just short — losing 27-24 — but the Welsh back row was immense, providing a break which left four defenders for dead. Can now put his feet up with Bath’s season over.

Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/19330538/warren-gatland-british-irish-lions-team-week-face-all-blacks-new-zealand

British & Irish Lions Team of the Week

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