Champions Cup Team of the Week: Marcus Smith one of three Harlequins in our side while Dan du Plessis also catches our eye

Planet Rugby
Champions Cup Round Four side

Now that the dust has settled on the fourth and final round of the Champions Cup, we have had a discussion and selected our Team of the Week.

Harlequins lead the way this week with three players making our side while London Irish, Gloucester and Edinburgh are next best with two apiece.

Check out our XV for the final pool round below and make sure, as always, to add your own team in the comments section at the foot of the article.

Champions Cup Team of Round Four

15 Nick David (Harlequins): Had a rough start under the high ball but grew into the game and was Quins’ most dangerous runner in broken field. Set up Alex Dombrandt’s try with a searing break and continually caused problems for the Sharks’ defence with his footwork and pace. Made 141 metres in total and was rewarded for his efforts with a score of his own as he went from his own 22 to cross the whitewash. A brilliance performance.

14 Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish): A wing switch here as we felt Hassell-Collins was deserving of a spot in our side. Fresh off the back of his England call-up, the London Irish star showed just what a special talent he is against Montpellier as his speed, power and skill-set kept the French side busy before the hosts launched that fightback. Juan Cruz Mallia went well for Toulouse but we opted for Hassell-Collins, who should be a hit in the Six Nations.

13 Garry Ringrose (Leinster): Continues to display his class and was easily the Irish province’s best player in what was a mixed display from Leo Cullen’s men. Jimmy O’Brien was no doubt thankful to Ringrose after the centre provided the assist for both of his scores with two moments of magic. The first saw him scythe through the defence and off-load to the wing before he kicked ahead, displayed tremendous pace and once again showed deft hands for O’Brien’s second.

12 Dan du Plessis (Stormers): Such a joy to watch with ball in hand, the similarities between Du Plessis and Stormers great Jean de Villiers are clear to see and once again came to the fore over the weekend. His balanced running was evident throughout against Clermont and he got through heaps of work, with a joint game high 13 carries rewarded with a wonderful try that showed his pace as he sliced through a hole and went over from 40 metres out. Gloucester’s Seb Atkinson was next best in our eyes.

11 Ollie Thorley (Gloucester): Would very much be in England contention if he could keep himself fit. Thorley was at his best as the Cherry and Whites qualified for the Champions Cup last-16 with an impressive display at Bordeaux-Begles. He was a significant threat with the ball, causing the UBB rearguard problems with his pace, power and footwork, but the 26-year-old also put in the hard work. His kick-chase game put the Bordeaux catchers under pressure with one huge hit on Nans Ducuing.

10 Marcus Smith (Harlequins): It’s like he’s never been away. Despite a month and a half out of the game through injury, the fly-half has impressed in both of his matches since returning. Smith had a great second period against Racing in Paris but he was probably even better at the Stoop. There was less of the ‘fancy stuff’ but the game-management was on point as Quins deservedly defeated the Sharks.

9 Jean-Marc Doussain (Lyon): Rolled back the years with a superb effort against the Bulls. It was ultimately in vain as the French outfit were denied a place in the last-16, but it doesn’t diminish what was a superb performance from Doussain. The scrum-half was absolutely brilliant in the 31-7 triumph, controlling play at the base and bringing his big carriers into the game. He was also a threat around the fringes and thoroughly deserved his second half try. At the age of 31, Doussain is still operating at a very high level.

8 Bill Mata (Edinburgh): An outstanding display against Saracens that saw the big man carry 18 times for 78 metres; the heartbeat of his team’s win that secured them a place in the last-16. Duane Vermeulen also deserves a shout out for his showing for Ulster in a typically reliable display, and 19-year-old Chandler Cunningham-South showed just what a prospect he is as he eclipsed Zach Mercer for London Irish against Montpellier.

7 Will Evans (Harlequins): We could have chosen any one of several outstanding opensides, but Evans’ five turnovers gave Quins go-forward in a rugby party at the Stoop against the Sharks where Siya Kolisi also shone in the wide carry – and, typically of the man, spent over an hour signing autographs for the many kids who came to see him. Luke Crosbie reminded the Scottish selectors of his carrying power for Edinburgh while Juan Martin Gonzalez was outstanding for London Irish and John Hodnett went well for Munster.

6 Jac Morgan (Ospreys): We’ve been a little divisive here; Morgan’s star performance at Welford Road was at eight, but we’ve selected him in his Wales position at six to accommodate both he and Mata, two standouts. Anthony Jelonch‘s versatility showed up well again for Toulouse as he spent the game moving from six to eight, whilst Jamie Ritchie also shone for Edinburgh until he limped off with a hamstring tweak.

5 Adam Coleman (London Irish): A massive shift from a massive man up against a superb Montpellier lineout, Coleman’s presence was vital for London Irish as he put in some thunderous hits. Munster’s Tadhg Beirne was splendid at the coalface against Toulouse, scoring once and making three turnovers, whilst the old Ospreys warhorse Alun Wyn Jones somehow still manages to impose his personality on a match, even at the age of 37, and was outstanding against Leicester Tigers.

4 Eben Etzebeth (Sharks): The huge South African lock doing huge South African lock things, big Eben will have loads of time on his intercontinental flights to replay his cheeky steal from under Danny Care’s nose. His compatriot Stephan Lewies was his abrasive and reliable self in direct opposition and he’ll be sending Etzebeth GIFs of his one-handed lineout steal. A mention too for Adam Beard who was a rock for Ospreys in lineout and maul again against Leicester.

3 John Ryan (Munster): Despite finishing on the losing team, Ryan dismantled a world-class loosehead Cyril Baille and put in some great work in the loose. Uini Atonio was in dumper truck mode over at La Rochelle and gave his side go-forward and we also give a shout out for Gloucester’s veteran Russian, Kirill Gotovtsev, who was solid as a rock against Bordeaux-Begles.

2 George McGuigan (Gloucester): It really was a toss up between McGuigan and Toulouse’s jackal machine, Julien Marchand, but somehow we felt that the Gloucester man’s win in Bordeaux was just a little more special as he crossed for a couple of tries. La Rochelle’s Quentin Lespiaucq also grabbed a brace for his side.

1 Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh): 21 carries, a try and some serious sledging towards Maro Itoje saw Scotland’s big Saffer put in a thundering display against Saracens. Yet again Val Rapava-Ruskin was magnificent, dismantling the UBB scrum and throwing out two of the filthiest back door offloads you’ll ever see from a prop in the space of 40 seconds, whilst another England loosehead, Bevan Rodd of Sale, put in a massive personal display of jackal and link play.

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