Find out who makes Stuart Barnes’s ‘dream team’ following this weekend’s championship action
2022 Six Nations Team of Round Four
There was plenty of drama in the latest round of Six Nations action.
Then at Twickenham, Ireland broke 14-man England eventually after Charlie Ewels was sent off in the second minute.
There were pretty tight contests across the board, so who would make a ‘dream team’ from the latest round of championship matches?
Here former England and Lions fly-half Stuart Barnes turns selector – and, interestingly, there are more players who lost rather than won at the weekend included.
2022 Six Nations Team of Round Four
15. Hugo Keenan (Ireland)
One day people outside Dublin will realise what a fine player the Ireland full-back is, and has been, for some time. He ran a great angle for his try at Twickenham and was in full control when England targeted him. The best full-back in the home nations.
14. Andrew Conway (Ireland)
The Munster winger doesn’t set the pulse racing. He isn’t a flamboyant runner with ball in hand. But he makes very few errors and is one of the world’s best chasers of a kick.
On Saturday’s showing he is also an arch exponent of the 50:22 with a pair of exquisite kicks to keep England where Ireland wanted them.
13. Gael Fickou (France)
His defensive organisation ensured there was suffocatingly little room for Wales in the wide channels. This wasn’t flash Fickou as we witnessed in Edinburgh but he does so little wrong even when the game doesn’t go his way.
A brick in this French team and a contender for anyone’s World XV.
12. Bundee Aki (Ireland)
The big man is a great deal more than the up-and-down basher some think he is.
When Ireland were causing England problems, his handling and lines of running were an intrinsic, if not obvious, part of the Irish midfield package. His defence was solid. It always is.
11. James Lowe (Ireland)
The former Maori winger is so important for Ireland. He has the capacity to finish from 40 metres, the rugby intelligence to pick clever running lines on the fringe of breakdowns through which to burst, and the strength to draw three defenders and allow Ireland to maximise the numerical advantage to crash over from close range for the final try.
10. Dan Biggar (Wales)
There were no other contenders for the fly-half position. The Welshman isn’t capable of igniting a midfield like Finn Russell but his tactical mastery of Friday night’s kicking game was something to behold.
Time and again he drove Wales forwards in 50-metre chunks, raising his arms to lift his pack and the stadium.
9. Ali Price (Scotland)
The way Italy fought back in the second half suggests Scotland would have been struggling to win if the lively scrum-half hadn’t torn them apart with a series of lightning breaks to open Italy up for three tries that proved the difference between winning and losing.
1. Ellis Genge (England)
All us bluffers say, “Yes, he’s tremendous in the loose but what about his work in the scrum?”
Scrum, lineout, ruck and maul, the loosehead was outstanding. Tadhg Furlong did not enjoy his afternoon in south-west London.
2. Jamie George (England)
The Saracen has long been my number one No 2 for club, country and Lions. Unfortunately for George, those who count have not been as certain of late.
Maybe his accurate set-piece work and his furious commitment to the cause for a full 80 minutes will force a reassessment.
3. Tomas Francis (Wales)
He divided the rugby world before the game. Should he play or should he sit out the French test, as the concussion debate raged through the world of rugby.
Wayne Pivac was adamant that his tighthead was okay and on Friday evening Francis held his own against Cyril Baille.
4. Will Rowlands (Wales)
Another Team of the Week performance from the Welsh second-row. Again, he got around in the loose but it was his disruption of the French lineout that stood out.
If there is a Most Improved Player in Europe award, Rowlands would be on my shortlist.
5. Maro Itoje (England)
The moment when he chased Ben Youngs’s box kick 30 metres and levelled Johnny Sexton just outside the Ireland 22 was the moment you wondered whether 22-man England could pull it off.
They didn’t but Itoje’s return to his brilliant best all over the field made life difficult for Ireland.
6. Seb Davies (Wales)
Another forward from a losing team. Davies is an incredibly versatile talent. Picked to play on the blindside against France, he did well in the lineout and loose.
An extremely skilful player who did all his side could have expected of him.
7. Anthony Jelonch (France)
France were twitchy. They needed to graft for this win and no one grafts harder than their openside who just happened to be on the end of a majestic movement to score the only try of the match.
Our unsung hero deserves a few verses in his praise.
8. Taulupe Faletau (Wales)
What can we say about this turbo-charged performance? Watch the game again. He started superbly and got better… and better. Another astonishing performance.
Along with Biggar, he is the galvanising force of this Welsh team.
What do you think of Stuart Barnes’s 2022 Six Nations Team of Round Four? Who would you select? Email email@example.com with your views.
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