Who makes Stuart Barnes’s ‘dream team’ from the latest round of the championship?
2022 Six Nations Team of Round Two
The latest round of championship action is complete and it’s advantage France after a Six Nations spectacular against Ireland in Paris.
Elsewhere, Marcus Smith starred in England’s win over Italy while in Cardiff Wales snatched a dramatic win with a Dan Biggar drop-goal.
Those are the headlines, but who were the standout players? Here Stuart Barnes, the former England and Lions fly-half, selects his composite team of the best performers from the championship’s second round.
2022 Six Nations Team of Round Two
15. Melvyn Jaminet (France)
The Frenchman gets the nod in the most competitive position. He runs great lines, is good in the air and kicks with a confidence that pressurises opposition and frees up Romain Ntamack to concentrate on his basics as a fly-half.
Against him, Hugo Keenan was superb as was Stuart Hogg, who plays with fabulous conviction. Liam Williams wasn’t bad either.
14. Darcy Graham (Scotland)
He and Damian Penaud both looked great when they touched the ball; alas neither got sufficient opportunity. The Frenchman oozed class but Graham’s power-packed finish to leave Louis Rees-Zammit for dead earns him the vote.
13. Gael Fickou (France)
He was not at his cutting-edge best but his kicking game is now top class and caused Ireland more than a few problems. In a high intensity defence, the other 14 players take their lead from him. Important as ever in the French effort.
12. Henry Slade (England)
He slipped into the fly-half position as opposed to crashing onto – not over – the gain-line in Edinburgh. He worked Marcus Smith into space with those soft hands of his while his dead-ball kicking is a major asset for any team.
11. Gabin Villiere (France)
He didn’t score a hat-trick this week – he didn’t score once – but he is surely the most ubiquitous winger in the competition.
The combination of his low centre of gravity and sheer strength is going to make him a cult hero in France.
10. Joey Carbery (Ireland)
The Ireland fly-half shades Dan Biggar and Marcus Smith for the accolade of top ten.
While the Welshman was endurance personified and Smith stunning for 40 minutes in Rome, Johnny Sexton’s late replacement handled the pressure, the French and the goalkicking duties with more than a touch of class.
9. Antoine Dupont (France)
He isn’t anywhere near his best but that trademark support line and score in the second minute of the match and his breathtaking breakout from inside his own in-goal area were among the most memorable moments of the weekend’s rugby. He doesn’t need to be at his best to turn a game.
Related: Antoine Dupont analysed
1. Ellis Genge (England)
He received the headlines for his ‘wonder pass’ to set up fellow front-rower Jamie George for his second try but he carried with conviction and, best of all, scrummaged like someone who really enjoys the bread-and-butter aspects of being a prop.
2. Jamie George (England)
Scored two tries – which is neither here nor there – but he threw with his usual accuracy and made a nuisance of himself in the tight.
It is hard to believe that he isn’t England’s first-choice hooker. If the Lions were touring next week, he would be an automatic in the Barnes book.
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
Hung on at times in the tight but his offloading game is at an all-time high level. His distribution is an important asset for Ireland.
Uini Atonio is unlucky to miss out; he too was an immense presence around the field but Furlong lasted the battle longer than the dynamic Frenchman.
4. Paul Willemse (France)
He was caught a few millimetres out of position for Jamison Gibson-Park’s try but otherwise he was a pillar of strength in the lineout and a brutal presence at the breakdown.
The weight he lends to the scrum is a given; 52 mighty minutes from the big man.
5. Adam Beard (Wales)
The lock – and the rest of the Welsh pack – remain firmly in the shadow of the legend that is Alun Wyn Jones, but the great man would have been impressed with Beard’s lineout work, not to mention his unstinting effort in making his long presence count at the breakdown.
6. Caelan Doris (Ireland)
He wasn’t running 30 metres for tries as against the All Blacks but he worked incredibly hard to keep Ireland afloat for much of this game. He’ll play prettier games in his career to come but I doubt he’ll leave much more perspiration on the park than he did Saturday night.
7. Josh van der Flier (Ireland)
He nicked another try from close range but, if anything, he did even more heavy duty defensive work to keep Ireland in the contest until the final whistle.
His Neil Back-like skill at the back of the driving maul is a tiny part of what van der Flier is. A truly accomplished, old-style battling seven.
8. Gregory Alldritt (France)
One of the most skilful ball-carrying back-rowers in the game. He can make hard yards look decidedly easy, which was never the case in Saturday’s bruising collision. When France needed a front foot, he was often the man to provide.
What do you think of Stuart Barnes’s 2022 Six Nations Team of Round Two? Who would you pick? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your views.
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