Bernard Jackman’s Six Nations Team of the Week: ‘Ridiculous’ wing stars for Scotland as every team but England makes the cut

James While
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Bernard Jackman's Six Nations Team of the Week from round three.

Bernard Jackman's Six Nations Team of the Week from round three.

Following another enthralling weekend of Six Nations action, Planet Rugby’s James While sat down with ex-Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman to get his picks for the Team of the Week.

We have teamed up with eToro, the official investing and trading partner of Premiership Rugby, to cover the 2024 Six Nations, previewing and reviewing the entire tournament.

Without further ado, here are Jackman’s choices for Team of the Week in his own words.

Six Nations Team of the Week, Round Three

15 Ange Capuozzo (Italy): Ange was in the espoirs at FCG Grenoble when I coached there and always had incredible ability. We spent lots of time debating whether he would be big enough to cope with what was an incredibly physical Top 14. We need not have worried. Never mind the Top 14, Ange can have a big influence at international level, and once France went down to 14 men and Italy got a bit of possession in the second half, Capuozzo played a huge role in the Italian fightback. A shout out, too, for Cam Winnett, a shining light for Wales in defeat.

14 Tommaso Menoncello (Italy): Italy’s new head coach, Gonzalo Quesada, has a lot of talent in the back three to choose from and that depth increased last week with Louis Lynagh coming onboard, but Menoncello sent a message that he won’t be moved easily. He is only 21, yet he played with no fear against a star-studded French team. He’s a big, abrasive back but with a lovely skillset, and he is a player to watch with interest.

13 Huw Jones (Scotland): His relationship with Sione Tuipulotu is so effective for club and country, and his ability to be a second playmaker makes Scotland’s attack beautiful to watch. Jones always seems to have time on the ball and was instrumental in breaking down the Felix Jones blitz defence. For Italy, Juan Ignacio Brex’s performance was a key driver in the Italian comeback.

Superstar big backs

12 Bundee Aki (Ireland): Ireland’s player of the Rugby World Cup and has continued that form over the first three weekends of the Six Nations. Since Pat Lam recruited him to Connacht from the Chiefs, Bundee has never taken a backward step in contact, but his all-round game is now making him the key man in the 12 jersey for Ireland. Robbie Henshaw and Stuart McCloskey are top-class inside centres, but Aki is the perfect foil to the young out-half Jack Crowley as he finds his feet in Test rugby.

11 Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland): The first time I saw Duhan play, he was an 18-year-old scoring five tries in an espoirs match for Montpellier one Sunday afternoon in front of about 40 people. We may have harshly written off our poor winger who was trying to mark him, not knowing what he was facing! To score a hat-trick in a Calcutta Cup match is ridiculous, and he must love playing England, where he has now scored FIVE in two matches! I don’t think that there is a better out-and-out finisher in world rugby at the moment.

WATCH: The angle of Duhan van der Merwe’s BLINDER you HAVE to see

Form half-backs

10 Finn Russell (Scotland): Has taken the captaincy in his stride and deserves massive credit for leading Scotland to what was their fourth consecutive win over England, but in my opinion, their most impressive and complete. Russell’s ability to find space in England’s new defence system was beautiful to watch, and Russell will go to Rome and Dublin brimming with confidence.

9 Jamison Gibson-Park (Ireland): Ireland have the quickest ruck speed in the Championship, and sometimes we focus on the attacking shape, ball carrier, or the cleanout, but Gibson-Park’s footwork around the breakdown is world-class. He allows Ireland to recycle with ridiculous speed, but on Saturday, all aspects of his game were on fire. His kicking game kept the Welsh backfield guessing, and when Wales threatened in the third quarter, his defensive reads were excellent.

Loose trio

8 Aaron Wainwright (Wales): Was a key target and a safe set of hands for Wales at lineout time, especially when his Dragons teammate Elliot Dee was on the pitch at hooker. Ireland dominated possession, but Wainwright’s defensive effort was sensational and played a huge role in delaying Ireland’s bonus point until the game’s final play. For France, Francois Cros almost kept them in the game single-handedly at times in an absolutely relentless display of back-row craft.

7 Michele Lamaro (Italy): I haven’t seen a team go at another upfront like France did against Italy in Lille in that first half. Under the pump in the scrum, lineout and maul and up against a pack that were nearly 10 kilograms a man heavier, Italy needed their captain at his brilliant best and he chopped down so many French one-out runners that he will need a week in an ice bath back in Italy. That draw will be a result that Italy can build on.

6 Charles Ollivon (France): It might not have been the result he wanted and replacing him at 65 minutes seemed a remarkable call, but again his personal performance was outstanding as he became the eighth highest try scorer in French rugby history and continued his impressive strike rate of a try every 2.6 Tests. Ryan Baird’s industry shone for Ireland when he came on in the second half.

Scot and Irishman in the second-row

5 Scott Cummings (Scotland): England were fancied to overpower Scotland in the front five, but Cummings had 80 minutes of quality impact: Tidy set-piece but sheer aggression and belligerence in every area of contact and for me it was Scott’s best game in a Scottish shirt. A shout out to Joe McCarthy, who was immense once again for Ireland in Dublin.

4 Tadhg Beirne (Ireland): He got yellow-carded for a technical infringement for the Welsh maul try, but it was one of his trademark big carries that led to Ireland getting that all important fourth try in the final play of the game. Beirne is like an extra back-row on the pitch, and his mobility is key to how Ireland attack and defend. Maro Itoje was one of England’s brighter lights in their gloomy display in Scotland.

Irish front-row shines

3 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland): The tighthead prop is back to his best after a challenging 2023 where he had some niggles that stopped him from getting a run of games. Ireland’s first-half scrum dominance was the most impressive scrummaging they have had for years, and Furlong had the upper hand on his side, along with some excellent impact around the pitch. Italy’s Simone Ferrari might have only been an impact player, but had some impact as he won crucial penalties for Italy in Lille.

2 Peato Mauvaka (France): France’s issues were due to a wasteful backline and not down to a forward pack that, for 40 minutes, won enough ball to win three games. Mauvaka is a brilliant ball carrier, and his form is keeping the equally world-class Julien Marchand on the bench; if France were to bounce back, you would imagine Mauvaka would be at the heart of it. Dan Sheehan was his usual brilliant self for Ireland and is a key part of their efficient pack.

1 Andrew Porter (Ireland): Porter is Mister Consistent in this Irish pack, and he will be delighted to be at his aggressive scrummaging best without falling foul of the officials, which had become a regular occurrence recently. Porter is a monster and currently the best loosehead in Europe, although a shout out for Danilo Fischetti, who hung on in the scrum and contributed immensely around the park for Italy.

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