15. Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
Was dominant in the air, tenacious in the tackle [see his ow-down chop on a charging Sean O'Brien] and an attacking threat in the Welsh backline. Was the best Welsh player on show against Ireland and continued to meet high standards as his team put together a winning run. Kicked 74 points, many from tight angles at the height of pressurised games.
14. Alex Cuthbert (Wales)
Recovered from a defensive bamboozling by Brian O’Driscoll at the Millennium Stadium to score four tries, including two in the crucial match against England. His power and pace provided headaches for each side he crashed into during the championship.
13. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)
It seems like a life-time ago but the tournament’s outstanding 13 delivered a masterclass against the Welsh to give his country hope of championship glory. Teed up Simon Zebo’s opener and scored a fine, burrowing try of his own. Was excellent in the home draw against France and showed his battling qualities after being sin-binned against Italy. It must be said, his selection is aided by Manu Tuilagi having only one good performance and Jonathan Davies failing to fire.
12. Wesley Fofana (France)
Once he moved into his rightful position at inside centre, following the defeat to Wales, Fofana showed his true class. Scored one of the tries of the tournament against England at Twickenham and broke Scotland’s resistance in Paris. Made 270 metres for his teams with 36 ball carries from the backline and earned four turnovers whilst pitching into defensive duties.
Fofana scored a wonder-try against England. (©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)
11. George North (Wales)
Ireland kept a lid on North in the championship opener but he excelled thereafter. Scored an excellent try in the corner against France to ensure victory and was the best Welsh back on show against Scotland. Gave Chris Ashton, and any other Englishman that dared to get in his way, a torrid time on saturday.
10. Owen Farrell (England)
Notwithstanding his meagre return of three points against Wales, Farrell was the championship’s best outhalf on show. His place kicking, kicking out of hand and link-up play with Billy Twelvetrees and Brad Barritt did for Scotland. Kicked crucial points and tackled like a demon against Ireland and he put his side into a winning position against France. His presence was missed against Italy. Should start for the Lions.
9. Mike Phillips (Wales)
The best scrum-half by a country mile, with Ireland’s Conor Murray best of the rest. Phillips’ best game was the away win over France, where he kept his team ticking with attacking snipes, crisp passing and smart kicks. He enjoyed himself in Rome and had a field-day, thanks largely to a motoring Welsh pack, in the thumping win over England.
1. Joe Marler (England)
Marler edges ahead of Gethin Jenkins, just about, based on the entirety of the championship. The Harlequins prop made two of our teams of the week and was excellent in hard-fought wins over France and Ireland. He made nine tackles against the Irish, a huge amount for a front-row. With England creaking against the Italians, he was drafted from the bench to shore up his team’s scrum and defence. The move paid off.
2. Richie Hibbard (Wales)
Not only does Hibbard boast the greatest hair of the tournament, the hooker can also boast of his unbeaten run. He was brought into the front row after the defeat to Ireland and performed in exemplary fashion in the four games that followed. Scored a crucial try away to Scotland and was part of a dominant pack that skittled the English.
Three stunning ‘dos: Davies, Jones and Hibbard. (©INPHO/James Crombie)
3. Adam Jones (Wales)
Dan Cole of England was in the box-seat for so long but the performance of Jones in the game that counted, the championship decider, sees him included. No stranger to putting in 70 to 75 minute shifts for his team and maintaining intensity throughout. Was superb against the English, won kickable penalties against the Scots and gave Yannick Forestier a tough time in Paris.
4. Joe Launchbury (England)
Another player that was a frequent guest in our team of the week line-ups. Launchbury formed an effective lock partnership with the equally excellent Geoff Parling. He was indefatigable in the English effort and was not shy in putting it all on the line to take down a charging opponent. The 21-year-old has played his way into Lions contention.
5. Ian Evans(Wales)
Deserves inclusion for five wholehearted displays to the Welsh championship-winning cause. 32 tackles in the blood and thunder, four-game recovery from also-rans to winners. Was a dangerous runner who made offloads in the tackle to set Tipuric and North on their way. A solid lineout jumper too. Scotland’s Jim Hamilton just misses out. He absolute menace at lineout time while linking up well with Richie Gray in the second row.
6. Alessandro Zanni (Italy)
Formed a fearsome, at time marauding, back row with Sergio Parisse and Simone Favaro in Italy’s impressive Six Nations outing. Made 50 carries for 231 metres, scored a try against Scotland and contributed to a team that rucked well and turned over a lot of ball. He was superb against Ireland and France during the wins in Rome, was part of the best lineout unit over the five matches, and made 12 offloads in the tackle during the championship.
7. Chris Robshaw (England)
Holds off the sensational Justin Tipuric on account of his excellent performances against Ireland, Scotland and France. His commitment to the cause and doggedness at the breakdown can not be questioned. Tipuric started on the bench against Ireland and Scotland but showed genuine class away to France and in the 30-3 win over the English.
A gutted Robshaw watches the Welsh players celebrate. (Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire)
8. Louis Picamoles (France)
Another tough decision as the Frenchman edges out inspirational Italian Sergio Parisse. Picamoles was the shining light of a woeful campaign by Les Bleus, scoring tries against Italy and Ireland. He made more than 70 carries for gains of 352 gained metres while securing 11 individual turnovers.
What do you think? Any glaring omissions?