After a thrilling weekend of 2021 Six Nations Round Two action, Christian Evans selects a 6 Nations team of the week of the best performing stars in the competition.
Wales, France and England emerged victorious this weekend, and all three nations have at least three players in this week’s team. Yet, despite losing, Scotland features prominently in this team with five nominations.
2021 Six Nations Round Two – Team of the Week
With that said, let’s take a look at who makes the cut, starting with the Back Three:
Stuart Hogg – Full-back
Hogg produced a strong display at Murrayfield and was one of many wearing Scotland colours who hardly deserved to be on the losing side.
The Exeter Chiefs star scored two tries he had no business scoring, made 113 metres from 11 carries, beat six defenders and made three clean breaks in a complete display. Should the British & Irish Lions tour go ahead, it is safe to call Hogg a lock-n for the full-back berth.
Anthony Watson – Wing
This decision came down to Jonny May and Watson for their outstanding performances against Italy, but unlike most, we have opted for Watson.
Watson enjoyed a strong outing against the Azzurri finding the whitewash twice and turned Italian defenders inside and out with his quick feet throughout the afternoon. The Bath star could be under pressure from Max Malins, this outing will go towards cementing Watson’s place in the squad.
Louis Rees-Zammit – Wing
Rees-Zammit was one of the easier selections in this team, and the game at Murrayfield will long be remembered for the day the Gloucester speedster arrived on the international scene.
The young wing scored two tries and added a try assist on Saturday, most notably producing a moment of individual brilliance leading to his second try. Very few players make Stuart Hogg look pedestrian, but Rees-Zammit did. That says it all when describing the talent of the winger.
Then we look right down the middle, with the TOTW Centres:
Henry Slade – Outside Centre
If England are to find their attack once again, Slade will be at the heart of it as he was on Saturday against Italy. Slade found space at will out wide and created space for his wingers to operate in all afternoon.
(Of note, Garry Ringrose comes a close second for this nod.)
Gael Fickou- Inside Centre
In order for France to be in contention for the crown Fickou needed to step up in the absence of Romain Ntamack and Virimi Vakatawa, Fickou certainly has stepped up.
Fickou was a monster in defence making 10 tackles, and most notably came up with a vital ball steal in the first half to deny Ireland points. Although the inside centre had few opportunities to shine in attack he made the most of his chances. Fickou collected Matthieu Jalibert’s wild pass with ease and provided a gorgeous offload to attract two Irish defenders to release Charles Ollivon for the opening try.
From here, it starts and ends with your halves combination:
Ali Price – Scrum Half
Like his half-back partner Finn Russell, Ali Price did his chances of the Lions tour no harm. Price has arguably been the best performing scrum-half from the home nations in the opening two weeks and displayed his prowess throughout the defeat to Wales.
Price’s intelligent kick over the top prior to Darcy Graham’s opening try was the notable highlight, but Price’s kicking was a constant threat throughout the game and kept the Wales defence on its toes throughout. Price edges Antoine Dupont for the final spot in this team.
Finn Russell – Flyhalf
Russell enjoyed a strong outing in Edinburgh, even though he couldn’t guide his team to the win. The outside half is firmly putting himself in the shop window for not just a place, but a starting berth ahead of the Lions tour this summer.
Russell’s offloading, hard running and ability to create space for his fellow attackers have made Scotland one of the more exciting teams to watch. This was something that rang true on Saturday.
Remarkable offload from Finn Russell, remarkable tap tackle from Owen Watkin. pic.twitter.com/gBMHETjACG
— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) February 13, 2021
The Racing 92 outside half also nailed all four of his kicks at Murrayfield, but his ability with ball in hand that is being lauded and rightfully so.
The focus then moves up to the big boys, and the Front row:
Wyn Jones – Loosehead prop
Jim Hamilton believes Jones would be the starting loosehead if the Lions tour started tomorrow and he wouldn’t be wrong.
Jones was immense for Wales throughout the game against Scotland on Saturday and played a whopping 78 minutes, which is an insane figure given the amount of work he got through.
The Scarlets loosehead scored a try, made six carries to go with his work in the set-piece. He produced a strong shift on defence making 14 tackles, more than any Welsh player bar Taulupe Faletau.
Ken Owens – Hooker
Luke Cowan-Dickie has received a lot of plaudits for his performance against Italy, but we have gone in a different direction with this selection choosing Wales hooker Ken Owens.
Owens was superb in defence throughout and was at the heart of numerous driving mauls, one of which led to Liam Williams’ try in the second half. Although a perhaps controversial selection, it is hard to argue that Owens isn’t deserving.
Kyle Sinckler – Tighthead prop
Ever since Eddie Jones’ arrival as England head coach, Sinckler has become a pivotal member of the England setup. His role is just getting bigger and bigger.
Sinckler’s trademark ball handing was on full display as he made 13 carries against Italy and was a constant presence getting over the gain line. Sinckler is a shoe-in this week.
You then find the best 2021 Six Nations Round Two examples for the Second-row and Back row:
Jonny Hill – Second-row
It is very rare that anyone outshines Maro Itoje, but Jonny Hill certainly did that on Saturday. After struggling in week one against Scotland, Hill starred against Italy producing a delightful pass to release Watson for his first try before capping off his day with a try of his own. A strong performance indeed.
Jonny Gray – Second-row
Scotland’s Mr. Consistent once again lived up to his name during the defeat against Wales. A missed tackle from Gray is rarer than packing a future stars Ruben Dias on FIFA Ultimate Team, and a couple of line breaks from the Chiefs lock makes him a shoe-in.
Gray continues to enhance his chances every week for a spot with the Lions.
Charles Ollivon – Blindside flank
The battle for the flanker spots came down to Ollivon, Hamish Watson, and Wales’ Justin Tipuric. Tipuric was a constant menace throughout the game against Scotland, but few can complain about Watson and Ollivon’s nominations here.
Ollivon once again got over the try line, picking up where he left off last year with four tries leading the tournament in 2020. On Sunday Ollivon was a calming presence throughout, the open-side flanker helped compose the lineout after some early errors, claiming seven throws. The Les Bleus captain also starred on defence, making 19 tackles, more than any other French player. ‘No wonder he was out of breath!’
You know you've put everything into a rugby match when you're still out of breath 15 minutes after the final whistle! 🌬️
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 15, 2021
Hamish Watson – Openside flank
Watson was a constant menace against Wales and is doing a very good job at raising his hand ahead of the Lions tour. The 29-year-old was against in imperious form competing against one of the best openside flankers in the world in Justin Tipuric.
Watson’s work off the ball was sublime on Saturday. He registered 18 tackles and made two turnovers while making 10 carries with ball in hand.
Gregory Aldritt – Number eight
The battle for the number eight jersey was tight this weekend with CJ Stander and Taulupe Faletau both producing outstanding displays, but it was the majestic Aldritt who keeps them out of the squad.
Aldritt was a force to be reckoned with in Dublin as he got over the gain line at will. Aldritt has become one of France’s more irreplaceable players in such a short space of time, and finishes off well the 2021 Six nations Round Two team of the week.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images