With few truly world-class, and some certainly underwhelming, performances, this year’s tournament XV has an eclectic and somewhat unexpected look to it. Who made it? Read on to find out.
1 – Ryan Grant (Scotland) There were better individual performances from others, but on the whole there was no more consistent loosehead than Grant. An underrated scrummager and very active in the loose.
2 – Leonardo Ghiraldini (Italy) Not a big surprise given the mixed performances of other candidates, and not the first time he’s been the best on show. Does everything well without much fuss.
3 – Adam Jones (Wales) At the top of his game. Here’s hoping his form continues long into the summer months.
4 – Jim Hamilton (Scotland) A tough call to leave out Alun Wyn Jones, but Big Jim gets the nod for playing every game. Proved a real nuisance in the lineout and his typical abrasive self in the close exchanges.
5 – Ian Evans (Wales) An absolute rock in the second row when Wales needed him the most. The unsung hero of a championship side.
6 – Alessandro Zanni (Italy) Would have had more competition if Tom Wood had been left on the blindside. As it was, a class apart from the rest.
7 – Chris Robshaw (England) Led his country as well as he could. The outstanding English player in every game.
8 – Sergio Parisse (Italy) Outplayed Picamoles in the tournament opener to claim his spoils. One of the most gifted players of his generation.
9 – Conor Murray (Ireland) Nobody would have picked him before the tournament. Improved massively in all aspects of his game.
10 – Dan Biggar (Wales) Another surprise selection? Has toned down his hot-headedness and has looked the part all tournament.
11 – George North (Wales) Only a solitary try, but had few chances and did well when asked. Greatness is still very much in his future.
12 – Wesley Fofana (France) Unsurprisingly looked much happier at centre than on the wing. The rugby world hopes he stays there from now on.
13 – Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) Battered but brilliant. One last full blooded tournament, yellow card aside.
14 – Giovanbattista Venditti (Italy) Alex Cuthbert scored tries but looked very poor in defense at times. This Italian fella appears to have settled in to test rugby after initially looking questionable.
15 – Leigh Halfpenny (Wales) Player of the tournament. Absolutely brilliant and the first name on the Lions roster.