What a Six Nations Championship we had which finished in the most spectacular fashion on Saturday evening. Many players performed excellently in the championship while others didn’t reach their usual high standards. The fact only two players outside of Wales and England make the XV proves their dominance throughout. The lack of a Scottish or Italian at all proves they have a lot to work on if they are to compete in the Six Nations.
LOOSE HEAD PROP – CIAN HEALY
One of the few Ireland players to emerge unscathed from a poor campaign. Mako Vunipola would likely have taken this position but for the injury he picked up. Healy seems to have been around forever and despite falling behind Jack McGrath in the Irish pecking order for a couple of years, his performances have established him as Irelands number one again.
HOOKER – JAMIE GEORGE
George seems to have addressed the issues that meant he was predominantly used by Eddie Jones as a replacement. His performances as starting hooker on the Lions tour seem to have got rid of the notion that he is best used as a substitute. He performed consistently well throughout the competition and Dylan Hartley has a huge task in hand to win back the number 2 shirt. However, the leadership frailties of England without Hartley were very evident in both the defeat to Wales and the draw with Scotland.
TIGHT HEAD PROP – KYLE SINCKLER
His temperament at the top level has often been questioned and with good reason. He performed excellently throughout the competition and deserves credit for his disciplinary performance. He is obviously a player that plays on the edge and he managed to not cross the line. He is now nailed on as an England starter. Opposing teams will continue to try and provoke Sinckler but if he can continue to keep his emotions in check he could be a great player.
LOCK – ALUN WYN JONES
What a player the Welsh captain still is and without doubt he would captain this side. He had a magnificent campaign and it is hard to envisage the Welsh completing the Grand Slam without him leading. He will go down in history as both a Welsh and Lions legend. His performances on the pitch were also immense so he is not selected merely on sentiment. If he can lead Wales to the World Cup final he must be considered one of their greatest ever if he isn’t already.
LOCK – GEORGE KRUIS
The Saracen produced solid performances throughout the championship for England. He is a player of little fuss that gets through a huge amount of the dirty work, a player every team needs. He has established himself as the number one second row player in England which is no mean feat given their extensive resources in that department. James Ryan performed well again this year but just didn’t meet the heights of last year.
BLIND SIDE FLANKER – JOSH NAVIDI
Mark Wilson was very good and Peter O’Mahony had his moments but Navidi performed excellently throughout in a position which isn’t his preferred. He played a huge role in setting the tone for the Welsh defence. His ball carrying was also very effective throughout. With Taulupe Faletau to return to the Welsh setup it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, is left out to accommodate him, based on this championship it can’t be Navidi.
OPEN SIDE FLANKER – TOM CURRY
His performances make you think he is a 30 year old veteran but no he is just a 20 year old. He has performed excellently since his debut in 2017. England have been crying out for an old school open side and seem to have found just that in Curry, he does strike as a future England captain and as a potential star of the 2019 World Cup. Justin Tipuric was his usual excellent self and Jamie Ritchie showed a lot of potential for Scotland, but Curry couldn’t be left out.
NUMBER 8 – BILLY VUNIPOLA
Louis Picamoles was one of the few consistently good performers for a poor French side, but the effectiveness of the English games relies so heavily on big Billy. His mere presence and threat as a ball carrier created so much space for the likes of Henry Slade and Jonny May to exploit. England have an embarrassment of riches in most positions but along with Owen Farrell and possibly his brother Mako, Billy really is indispensable at present.
SCRUM HALF – ANTOINE DUPONT
He wasn’t even a starter for France at the start of the competition but by the end he has to be considered first choice in the position. His style makes him a constant threat around the fringes. The nature of the French game and their selection process at the moment mean he might not be their man at the World Cup but based on his performances during the Six Nations he definitely deserves a shot.
OUT HALF – DAN BIGGAR
This may be viewed as a strange selection due to him only starting in one of the games. He did get a lot of playing time and managed to provide a spark every time he joined the fray. He is a player who can be trusted in high pressure moments and might not always be the easiest on the eye but in tense high level competition he can be relied upon and that is huge for Wales going into the World Cup. Finn Russell had his excellent moments, Farrell was average by his standards and Sexton was disappointing.
WINGER – JOSH ADAMS
A real breakthrough tournament for the man with dynamite in his feet. He scored crucial tries and probably the try of the tournament against Scotland. Wales have Leigh Halfpenny to return to the fold, but it would appear that including him at the expense of Adams would take a lot away from the Welsh attack.
INSIDE CENTRE – HADLEIGH PARKES
The Kiwi born Scarlet is a strong contender for player of the tournament, that tackle against Jacob Stockdale without doubt tackle of the tournament at a crucial time. Immense in defence he also chipped in with some crucial tries. He is now a critical player for Wales as his reading of the game is so exceptional and no other centre offers that at twelve. The partnership he has struck up in midfield with Jonathan Davies is possibly the best in world rugby at present. Manu Tuilagi also had a great tournament and it is great to see him back to his best, expect fireworks at the World Cup from him if he can stay fit.
OUTSIDE CENTRE – JONATHAN DAVIES
Henry Slade has probably nailed down the English thirteen shirt after an outstanding campaign. However, Jonathan Davies just keeps proving his class on the big stage. Nothing seems to go past him whether it be inside or outside. He must be surely considered as one of the best outside centres in the world given his performances over the last decade.
WINGER – JONNY MAY
He can only be described as a try scoring machine. When it comes to a foot race he is going to win. He has added so much to his aerial game now and improved hugely in defence and is now the full package having been previously labelled one dimensional. Opposition coaches will have him at the forefront of their minds when devising a game plan to stop England at the World Cup.
FULL BACK – LIAM WILLIAMS
Elliott Daly probably would have been in the team if he had played as a winger this year but Liam Williams has been immense at the back for Wales. He was the man of the match in the biggest game of the tournament against England. His aerial ability completely nullified the kicking game of England and he turned defence into attack constantly throughout the championship.
Written by Stefan Hamilton