Nick Easter’s Six Nations Team of the Week: ‘Flawless’ Frenchman and Italy’s ‘tackle & jackal machine’ feature after Super Saturday

James While
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Our Six Nations team of the week from Super Saturday.

Our Six Nations team of the week from Super Saturday.

After a thrilling conclusion of the 2024 Six Nations, Planet Rugby’s James While sat down with former England forward Nick Easter to select his Team of the Week from the action on Super Saturday.

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.

Another Six Nations has come and gone – one that started slowly but built to breathtaking momentum with a Super Saturday that saw Ireland take the spoils, Italy win the hearts, and France and England deliver the thriller of the year.

Easter selects his team from an absolutely spellbinding weekend.

Six Nations Team of the Week – Round Five

15 Leo Barré (France): Thomas Ramos’ move to ten opened the door for the Stade Français youngster, who appears to have all of the qualities of a test full-back, including pace to burn. Hugo Keenan was always in the conversation, and he’s one of those players who delights a coach with his surety in all he does.

14 Damian Penuad (France): I honestly believe this fella is the best wing in the world right now. People don’t realise how big he is – he’s a back-row size at 6’4″ and around 107kgs, so when he motors he simply bounces off people. Exceptional player. England’s Tommy Freeman lost little in comparison to Penaud, which shows just how far he has progressed.

13 Juan Ignacio Brex (Italy): I absolutely love the work of the world-class Benetton centre. One of the features of his play is his ability to get to the line and hit a sumptuous pullback pass at pace, and I believe he, alongside Bundee Aki and Francois Cros, have been the best players of the tournament this season. France’s Gael Fickou continued his great work in attack, but for the second week running, he’ll be furious regarding some of the defensive howlers of his French midfield defence, whilst Robbie Henshaw was his consistent self for Ireland.

12 Ollie Lawrence (England): A man I coached at the crossroads of his career when Worcester Warriors went belly up, I am delighted to see him fulfil his huge potential. I’ve already sung the praises of Bundee Aki on Planet Rugby a few times, and both he and Italy’s Tommaso Menoncello continued their impressive trajectory for their teams.

11 Monty Ioane (Italy): Colourful, quick and clever sums up the Italian left wing, and his superpower is his ability to go and look for work, something we as coaches love to see. James Lowe pushed him all the way and was Ireland’s most consistent player this season and I am sure he’ll do well in South Africa in the summer.


10 George Ford (England): Planet Rugby’s stats-based article this week showed just how far Ford has progressed this season. The campaign probably started two weeks too early for Fordy’s injury issues, but once he got into his stride and realised he needed to get flatter, he created magic in a previously stuttering backline.

9 Jamison Gibson-Park (Ireland): With Alex Mitchell and Nolann le Garrec shining for England and France respectively, I almost tossed a coin between these three players, but Gibson-Park was the architect of Ireland’s Championship win in so many ways. A hugely intelligent and effective player bursting with streetwise nous.

Six Nations Team of the Tournament: Ireland and Italy lead the way as one country misses out

Italy’s ‘tackle and jackal machine’

8 Ben Earl (England): I cannot praise England enough for persisting with Earl at eight when some of the fan voices spout utter nonsense about him being ‘the wrong shape.’ Utter tosh, there’s nobody better in the world in that position right now, although a shout out to the brilliant Caelan Doris, a powerhouse in every way for Ireland.

7 Michele Lamaro (Italy): Once again, the Azzurri makes the cut as he topped virtually every stat in the seven shirt on Saturday. He is a tackle and jackal machine; he and Brex are the reason Italy have been so successful. Charles Ollivon purred around the pitch like a Rolls-Royce once again in Lyon and there’s no better flanker in the world with ball in hand than the Toulon star.

6 François Cros (France): Cros has emerged from the shadow of the more lauded Ollivon and Gregory Alldritt to become France’s most consistent player and best back-rower this season. There’s so much of Richard Hill in his play, and on Saturday, he was absolutely flawless, setting up two tries with his line out and carrying and dominating the breakdown. He’s my Player of the Week, although Andy Christie was absolutely sensational in Dublin for Scotland despite his side’s defeat.

All French second-row

5 Emmanuel Meafou (France): Who hasn’t replayed that massive carry from Meafou that sent Maro Itoje back to Calais?! When you have a man this big, you build a pack around him; it’s as simple as that. Tadhg Beirne had a milestone of his own to celebrate as he ran out for his 50th cap and was once again outstanding. A shout out to Scotland’s Scott Cummings, who hit 25 tackles in a tireless display in defeat against Ireland.

4 Thibaud Flament (France): Like Cros, he just never stops working and breathed energy back into the second-row in the final two games. Played a crucial role in the breakdowns, mauls and lineouts. Joe McCarthy again confirmed his arrival on the test scene for Ireland, whilst Wales’ Dafydd Jenkins just never stops.

One of the best hookers and two powerhouse props

3 Uini Atonio (France): Busy defensive effort, solid in the scrums even with Ellis Genge holding his form well. Busier with the ball in hand than usual and went deeper into the game, too. Simone Ferrari also impressed me in a powerful scrummaging shift against Wales.

2 Dan Sheehan (Ireland): Showed great awareness to nick a try early on for Ireland off the back of a poor Scottish throw. Sheehan’s mobility continues to impress me, and I believe he’s one of the best hookers about at the moment. Giacomo Nicotera goes under the radar for Italy, but he’s brilliant in setpiece and talented in the breakdown. Lastly, I want to shout out Julien Marchand – France missed him hugely in the breakdown after his injury, and it’s no coincidence his return has galvanised France.

1 Andrew Porter (Ireland): Does a lot of work at the apex of the Irish carry pod, and this was evident once again with an impressive 15 in that department, one of which resulted in the decisive try. Danilo Fischetti dominated up front but also managed 11 tackles in addition to his impressive breakdown work. He’s been outstanding all season.

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