Champions Cup: Team of the Week

Date published: October 24 2016

Now that the dust has settled on the second round of action in this season’s Champions Cup, we have selected our team of the week.

Saracens, Munster, Clermont and Castres all claimed impressive victories on a busy weekend of European action.

Let’s see who made the cut.

15 Jean-Marcellin Buttin (Bordeaux-Bègles): The full-back was class despite his side's loss. He ran an immense 115 running metres while beating five defenders on the run and making three clean breaks. The Metz-born flyer also scored two tries in a complete performance. Munster utility-back Simon Zebo produced a passionate display of rugby putting his body on the line on many occasions while scoring a great try in the corner.

14 David Smith (Castres): The former Western Force player produced a masterclass against Northampton Saints. He scored ten points through two tries, left the defence puzzled after beating seven defenders and breaking the line six times. He also kept his side on the front foot by running an impressive 90 metres.

13 Charles Piutau (Ulster): Piutau has been inspirational ever since putting on an Ulster jersey and it was no different against Exeter last weekend. The Auckland-born flyer made an incredible 126 running metres, he broke the line twice while leaving nine defenders in his wake through some electric runs.

12 Nick Tompkins (Saracens): The inside centre proved how dynamic he is with a great performance across the board. On attack he was influential through two clean breaks and five defenders beaten while contributing a try. On defence he went above and beyond the call of duty by making nine tackles. Wesley Fofana also deserves a shout out after beating five defenders and scoring a try. 

11  Stacey Ili (Connacht): Ili was instrumental in his side 52-7 routing of Zebre. The winger was a nightmare for defenders after making a massive 98 metres, breaking the line three times and beating five players on attack. Besides his impressive attacking stats he was able to claim a hat-trick. Montpellier's Nemani Nadolo also deserves a mention after scoring a brace of tries.

10 Tyler Bleyendaal (Munster):  Bleyendaal put in a spirited performance in Munster's domination over Glasgow. The young fly-half scored an incredible try as he darted through the opposition defence and made an individual tally of 16 points. He also made plenty of running metres from the first channel, wracking up 31 metres. Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell and Leicester Tigers pivot Freddie Burns also had spectacular games. Farrell made a whopping 19 with Burns making 16. 

9 Morgan Parra (Clermont): Parra was in fine form against his fellow French club Bordeaux Begles. The nippy number nine made 17 points through four conversions and three penalties. His distribution was pin point after completing 60 passes while creating valuable momentum for his team through some great offloads. Parra just beats out Castres number nine Antoine Dupont who picked up a great try and Munster scrum-half Connor Murray whose crisp passing kept Glasgow guessing in the their clash on Saturday. 

8 Nathan Hughes (Wasps): The Fijian loose forward produced a complete performance in his side's 20-20 draw with Toulouse. He was industrious on defence making six tackles. But his attack is where he contributed the most for his side scoring a try while running 61 metres through 14 runs. Hughes just tops Toulon number eight Duane Vermeulen who made 12 tackles against Sale Sharks. 

7 Brendan O'Connor (Leicester Tigers): The flanker had an impressive display for the Tigers, his support at the breakdown secured his side's possession. He also made nine tackles while contributing five points to his team's tally with a try. Thierry Dusautoir also deserves a mention for making 15 tackles against Wasps. 

6 Michael Rhodes (Saracens): The big South African import has been on a fine run of form recently. He was fantastic on attack as he gained 64 metres, beat three defenders, and broke the line twice while also scoring a try. He had an industrious performance on defence as well making 12 tackles. Montpellier star Fulgence Ouedraogo was just behind Rhodes in the pecking order after making 16 tackles. 

5 Paul Willemse (Montpellier): Was at the forefront of Montpellier's forward effort in an important victory over Leinster at the Altrad Stadium. Willemse was a willing ball carrier but it was on defence that he caught the eye with 12 tackles. Willemse was particularly effective around the fringes of the rucks and mauls, and beats out Munster's Billy Holland.

4 Sitaleki Timani (Clermont): Came on as a replacement in his side's impressive victory over UBB and made a big impact in the tight exchanges. The former Wallaby thrived with ball in hand, gaining a valuable 27 metres, and was rewarded with a try for his efforts. Maro Itoje also impressed for Saracens.

3 Census Johnston (Toulouse):  The burly Samoan impressed at his core duties, especially his scrummaging which was solid but also impressed with ball in hand and scored a crucial try in his side's draw with Wasps. Johnstone also put his body on the line on defence, making seven tackles.

2 Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers):  Was one of his team's stars during a valuable home win over Racing 92. Youngs' throw-ins at the line-outs were accurate  and he also impressed when executing his defensive duties making 15 hits. Saracens' Schalk Brits also did well.

1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens): The England front-row makes our team for the second successive week after another fine showing for the English champions. Vunipola did well on attack, gaining 41 metres and scored a superb try in the process. Also shone on defence with nine tackles and edges out Antoine Tichit of Castres.