Now that the dust has settled in Europe, Planet Rugby thought it only right to hand out praise to the semi-final stars of the Heineken Cup.
Now that the dust has settled, Planet Rugby thought it only right to hand out some praise to the star players of the 2011/12 Heineken Cup semi-finals.
We have an all-Irish final on May 19 after Ulster and Leinster navigated their way past Edinburgh and Clermont in their respective quarter-finals. Therefore it is of little surprise that our elite XV is dominated by the former two provinces, with a dash of French and Scottish seasoning added.
So without further ado, here comes our offering – be sure to send in your own 15-1 team line-ups.
Team of the Week
15 Rob Kearney (Leinster) – The stand-out full-back of the weekend. Kearney made over 90 metres in ground at Stade Chaban-Delmas as he further improved his chances of being the British & Irish Lions starting number 15 when they run out against Australia for the first Test next year.
14 Sitiveni Sivivatu (Clermont) – At 30 years of age, Sivi proved on Sunday he has plenty of rugby left in the tank. He constantly caused problems, beating five defenders and making over 70 metres in ground against the reigning champs.
13 Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster) – That hit on AurÃ©lien Rougerie minutes into the second-half was a statement from BOD and one that further lifted Leinster on the back of Cian Healy's try in the 41st minute. From then on, Rougerie was not as prominent while O'Driscoll went well.
12 Paddy Wallace (Ulster) – He seems to be playing some of the best rugby of his career.
11 Tim Visser (Edinburgh) – When he becomes eligible for Scotland, Andy Robinson has himself a real gem. Visser continuously popped up on the shoulder of Greig Laidlaw and carried well when he got the chance. The size and pace of Visser is a sight to behold.
10 Jonathan Sexton (Leinster) – Greig Laidlaw came close to taking this jersey after a solid all-round performance for Edinburgh. But for what happened during the half-time break when Sexton told his team the move they were doing on the first opportunity in the second 40, we had to reward his confidence. That Healy try was the catalyst in Leinster's ultimate victory in Bordeaux and one could see just how vital a call it was from the featured picture.
9 Ruan Pienaar (Ulster) – The supporters holding the “You've been Ruan-ed” sign in the crowd at Aviva Stadium were right again as Pienaar starred from minute one in Dublin. It was not just his kicking from the tee that stood out but also his directing of proceedings.
8 Pedrie Wannenburg (Ulster) – In front of Pienaar was fellow South African, Wannenburg, who kept Ulster ticking over nicely with his carrying and general workrate. What a perfect way to bow out in a white jersey it would be for the ex-Bull if he were to lift the Heineken Cup.
7 Julian Bonnaire (Clermont) – Our problem area. Ross Rennie was his usual self while Shane Jennings also did his bit. But Bonnaire gave everything to the cause and is unlucky to end 2012 with no Heineken Cup or Six Nations. His last hope is the Bouclier de Brennus.
6 Stephen Ferris (Ulster) – Despite using half of the medical tape in the Ulster's kit bag, Ferris powered on to another big effort for his side. I think we've used all the superlatives we could have over the past year to sum him up. Now, Dan Lydiate, Tom Croft or Ferris?
5 Nathan Hines (Clermont) – A mention straight off the bat for Dan Tuohy, who must finally be recalled to the Ireland squad after another strong year. However, the form of Hines was something to behold as the Scot offloaded, carried and caused Leinster all kinds of bother.
4 Sean Cox (Edinburgh) – Cox was excellent against the Ulster pack and must have made Sale wonder how they let him go north of the border. Lock rival Johann Muller came close.
3 Declan Fitzpatrick (Ulster) – Not having John Afoa was meant to be a blow to Ulster going into their quarter-final. That proved to be a false presumption, however, as Deccy stood up well and despite knowing he probably won't start at HQ, if they win he'll have done his bit.
2 Rory Best (Ulster) – Few hookers stood out over the weekend as Richardt Strauss threw poorly early on, Benjamin Kayser had trouble breaking the Leinster line and Ross Ford was quiet against our pick. Ulster's scrum never looked in trouble so credit to the whole group.
1 Cian Healy (Leinster) – Congrats to those who had him for first try in Bordeaux. Like Kearney, he is just ahead of a Welshman in the 2013 British & Irish Lions pecking order.
By Adam Kyriacou
Twitter – @PlanetRugbyAK