We take a look at the star performers of the 2016 Six Nations and select a Lions XV based on the stand out candidates…
Hogg was without doubt one of the stand out performers of the 2016 Six Nations and was a constant threat ball in hand. His massive boot was also a huge plus for Scotland as he was instrumental in his sides two victories. He can also act as a second receiver meaning the team can opt for a solid 10-12 axis in Farrell and Roberts.
Although Watson wasn’t at his sparkling best for the whole tournament, he showed enough flashes of brilliance to prove exactly why he is a must for the Lions squad next year. He has an impressive turn of pace and an uncanny ability to find space in the narrowest of channels. His experience at full back also makes him a key defensive player.
Had it not been for injuries, Taylor may not have even been given a chance for Scotland this year, however when he did take to the field, he made sure he never left it. The Saracens man was in fine form scoring an impressive try against France whilst also tracking back to make a key try saving tackle on Tom James against Wales showing his talent on both sides of the ball.
Roberts has come in for plenty of criticism for not being ‘creative’ enough, however he was the stand out 12 in the Six Nations and remains the lynchpin of the Welsh defence. He also showed flashes of his extended skill range against Italy where he carried and distributed well in addition to attempting offloads whenever the opportunity arose.
The giant Welsh wing finally looks back to the form he displayed when he first burst onto the international scene against South Africa as a nineteen year old. He finished the tournament as the top try scorer and made use of his impressive size to score several impressive tries as he burst through defenders and used his impressive pace to get over the line.
Although Farrell may have played at 12 throughout the tournament, he was still the standout player of the available fly halves. He distributed well, was solid with the boot and defended his channel well. He has also displayed at Saracens this year that he can be a creative force ball in hand, and at present is the most consistent option at 10.
Although Webb only came back into the reckoning during the final couple of games of the Six Nations, he showed enough to indicate he could well be the first choice Lions scrum half. He needs to build his match fitness over the next 15 months, but given the other scrum half contenders were inconsistent at best, the shirt is Webb’s to lose.
One of the undoubted stars of the Six Nations, Vunipola almost single handedly carried England through their first few games. He appears to have a renewed love for the game under Eddie Jones, and if he can continue his current run of good form, it’s hard to see any reason why he wouldn’t be a starter for The Lions.
Although Sam Warburton is probably the frontrunner, Hardie was the stand out openside during this year’s Six Nations. The Scotland flanker was a constant menace at the breakdown, and made his presence known around the field. He also looks to be a key onfield leader in the Scottish back and isn’t afraid to put his body on the line.
Another England player who looks to have been reinvigorated under the new regime, Robshaw looks well on his way to joining the Lions in 2017 after missing out on the tour of Australia. His workrate is absolutely phenomenal and his experience of captaining England will be a key on field boost for the Lions team.
Although the likes of Vunipola and Itoje stole the plaudits, Kruis was probably England’s most consistent top performer and looks to be well on course to tour next year. His workrate around the field was phenomenal whilst he was a key figure in the lineout, securing his own ball and disrupting his opponents on multiple occasions.
Although Alun Wyn Jones is likely to be the starter here, during the Six Nations Itoje well and truly outperformed all of his more established rivals. If Itoje can maintain his current form then it’s easy to see him featuring prominently on a number of Lions tours of the coming years, especially given he still has plenty of developing to do.
The Scotland tighthead has become one of his side’s most pivotal figures, and in a period where very few tightheads are really dominating, Nel must now be the frontrunner for the Lions jersey. His scrummaging ensured Scotland’s set piece remained solid, and the drop off his side saw when he left the pitch proved just how important he is.
He may have been a controversial choice as captain, but Hartley has proven to be a fantastic choice demonstrating his leadership skills for England as they earned a first Grand Slam in 13 years. He was consistent throughout the tournament and helped ensure England’s set piece became a weapon once again.
With no loosehead particularly standing out during the Six Nations we’ve selected Evans as he was probably the most consistent of all the options. He was solid if unspectacular for Wales helping ensure his side had parity at scrum time, whilst he also made his presence known in the loose.
A solid replacement for Hartley who offers more around the pitch coming off the bench.
Similar to Best, Vunipola offers huge impact off the bench with his carrying.
Gives away too many penalties but is still fantastic at scrum time and at the breakdown.
A monster tackler who also features prominently during Scotland’s set piece.
Was Ireland’s stand out performer and offers real impact off the bench.
May not be as safe as other options but can speed up the tempo of a game.
A safe pair of hands and solid boot who can be used to shore things up.
Had his best ever Six Nations for Scotland and deserves to tour.