Six Nations: Two Cents Rugby picks his top five players of Round One

Two Cents Rugby
hooker Dan Sheehan for Ireland Brian O'Driscoll

With the first week of the Six Nations in the bag, Two Cents Rugby picks five of the standout players of the round and it’s a healthy mix of forwards and backs.

In no particular order, the YouTube star is joining us throughout the Championship and kicks off with his Round One selection. Have your say in the comments.

Two Cents Rugby’s top five players of Six Nations, Round One

Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)

Matches between England and Scotland tend to be tight affairs with a moment of magic being the difference. In this year’s game, much of that magic came from Van der Merwe. His first try in the 29th minute is one that will grace Six Nations highlight reels for years to come. Beating five defenders in one run, with more grace than his usual power game, it’ll be one that gives the England defence coaches nightmares.

But it wasn’t just his wonder try that stood out. He clocked up 11 defenders beaten in total, including a few with his second try of the game. For context the next best performer for breaking tackles in that game was Marcus Smith with four. He also looked comfortable under the high ball when called upon to do his part in countering England’s kicking game. A big game from the big man.

Caelan Doris (Ireland)

Doris continues to be Mr Everywhere in this Ireland back-row. It was no real surprise that he was Johnny on the spot for Ireland’s first try, a well worked team effort. That carry was one of 11 for Doris, the most of any Irish forward. He also passed the ball more than any other Irish forward and won three lineouts which highlights the man’s ball handling skills to go with his physical game.

Perhaps most impressive though, was his defensive shift. Ireland’s defence was solid as a team, but Doris’ 18 tackles from 18 attempts was highest of his side. He is even credited with a turnover as well. Tries, tackles, passes and more, Doris does it all.

Gaël Fickou (France)

Not France’s best day at the office by any means, but Fickou continues to show both his class and experience. He may not have gotten his name on the scoreboard, but he’s often that guy to get the ball over the advantage line. His six defenders beaten was the most of the match and on two occasions his strong carries forward happened one phase before a French try.

An area of his game though which he consistently excels and is less flashy is his defence. In this game France were required to do a lot of defending and Fickou led the way for the French backs. Credited with 15 tackles and none missed, that gives him more tackles than any other back this weekend.

Ollie Chessum (England)

Taking Jonny Hill’s place there was a some extra pressure on Chessum, but he stepped into the starting role comfortably. If you’d told me prior to this weekend that Chessum would carry for almost 50 metres, I wouldn’t have believed you, but that’s what he did. A couple of defenders beaten added to what was an impressive carrying shift.

He also showed his ability to handle the ball with seven passes including his part with the quick hands which saw Max Malins go over for his second try. Chessum was also the top lineout man of the week with nine takes. He conceded a couple of penalties, but overall a very positive outing for the second-rower.

Dan Sheehan (Ireland)

After a fantastic 2022, Sheehan continued his rich vein of form in the opener against Wales. Sheehan’s ball carrying was dynamic, as we’ve come to expect. His six defenders beaten the most of any Irish player and he even led the Irish in the way of clean breaks with two. You know he’s playing with confidence when he backs himself to put boot to ball, not something many hookers will attempt, and offloads with skill as well.

For the less flashy stuff, Sheehan continued to impress. Ireland’s lineout operated at 100% and Sheehan didn’t concede any penalties. He continues to push himself forward as the leading hooker in Ireland, albeit with Ronan Kelleher on the return to challenge him for that role soon.

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