Heineken Cup: Team of the Week

Date published: October 15 2013

Now that the dust has settled after the first weekend of European action, we select the XV players that stood out from the crowd.

Now that the dust has settled after the first weekend of European action, we select the XV players that stood out from the crowd.

What a start to the tournament! Tries galore and handful of upsets too – fans of European club rugby were given a real treat.

Toulon and Leinster confirmed their credentials as title favourites while Harlequins and Clermont (who face off this Sunday) have already lost ground in the battle to get out of Pool 4.

There were some fantastic team and individual performances, making it a tough task to pick only XV names and – as usual – there was some hot debate at Planet Rugby HQ. Don't forget to add your selections in the comments section below.

Heineken Cup Team of the Week: Round One:

15 James Hook (Perpignan): A full-house for the Welsh exile came in defeat away to Gloucester, but that shouldn't take away from Hook's performance. Do Wales really not need him? Fast becoming Perpignan's most prized possession. Credit to Mike Brown for his brace also in defeat, this time to the Scarlets.

14 Sitveni Sivivatu (Clermont): Arguably the individual performance of the weekend. 'Sivi' was the Man of the Match on a losing side but you can't blame the former All Black for Clermont's failure to cross the whitewash. He was everywhere, excellent on defence and made over 140m with ball in hand, beating eight defenders along the way.

13. Maxime Mermoz (Toulon): Two well-taken tries and an assist in another top-class performance from the French international, who also made three clean breaks. Perfect running lines, brilliant hands.

12 Scott Williams (Scarlets): Williams could have made the team alone for his outrageous dummy in the build-up to a sensational try at The Stoop against Harlequins. The English side had no answer to Williams' pace and power, whilst his try was one of the best so far this season.

11 Fetu'u Vainikolo (Exeter Chiefs): Outstanding in his first starting appearance for the Chiefs, Vainikolo's hunger to get involved was obvious. A try, a handful of clean breaks and five defenders beaten, the Tongan was bubbling with energy.

10 Matt Giteau (Toulon): He may have started at 12 but the former Wallaby scored both his tries after shifting to fly-half following Jonny Wilkinson's early exit. Beyond his versatility, Giteau's eye for gap makes him one of the most dangerous attackers in the game.

9 Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh): At the heart of Edinburgh's surprising win over Munster was their skipper. Laidlaw made it a birthday to remember by passing 500 points for the club as he captained Edinburgh to victory in a man-of-the match performance, scoring 19 points.

8 Dave Ewers (Exeter): The young English number eight is making a real name for himself, having succeeded the retired Richie Baxter for the Chiefs. 18 carries in a man-of-the-match innings continued to hurt the Cardiff Blues forwards. One to look out for. Credit to Chris Masoe for an excellent performance, as always, against Glasgow.

7 Sean O'Brien (Leinster): The sole try scorer at the Liberty Stadium was a menace at the breakdown, racking up 11 tackles in an effective trio alongside Kevin McLaughlin and Jamie Heaslip. O'Brien's 13 carries and offloading helped Leinster get over the advantage line when it mattered.

6 Roger Wilson (Ulster): Man of the Match in Ulster's battle with Leicester, Wilson put in a tireless effort at the breakdown. He also carried well and made 10 tackles. A mention too for Scarlets' Aaron Shingler and Toulon's Joe van Niekerk.

5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega (Castres): Man of the Match against Northampton, the Urugruayan lock made an impressive 18 tackles for Castres as the Top 14 champions bucked their league form to start their European campaign with a bang. An effective ball-carrier too.

4 Bakkies Botha (Toulon): The former Springbok seldom stands out in the stats because he does his best work in the trenches. Bernard Laporte brought him to France to hit rucks hard and that's exactly what he did.

3 Luc Ducalcon (Racing Metro): A tough decision as there was little to choose between a number of candidates. Racing got their four pool points thanks to pure grit and courage as they defended their hearts out. Ducalcon gets our nod thanks to his 10 hits. A mention too for Exeter's Hoani Tui.

2 Sean Cronin (Leinster): Leinster's pack were robust in Swansea and Cronin put his hand up – carrying for 55 metres (more than any other Leinster player), beating two defenders and making 11 tackles on the other side of the ball whilst setting up O'Brien's try. In the week when Leinster lost Richardt Strauss for the season, Cronin proved that they should be ok.

1 Mako Vunipola(Saracens): It's hard to ignore a prop who beats three defenders and makes ten tackles. A mention too for Leinster's Cian Healy and Toulon's Emmanuel Felsina.