names its Lions XV

by staff

The opening weekend of the autumn internationals will not be remembered with any fondness by the home unions after three defeats and a solitary win.

England struck the only blow for the British and Irish hopefuls - although that was hardly a surprise given they had the easiest of the four matches against Fiji.

And there was little shock too in the fact New Zealand powered past Scotland at Murrayfield - with the World Cup winners having never lost to Andy Robinson's charges.

However the capitulation of Grand Slam champions Wales against Argentina and Ireland's second-half slump to South Africa was a jolt to the system.

And following the weekend's action,'s rugby union writer Tony Curtis names his Lions XV based on who shone in those four Tests...

15. Alex Goode (England)

Arguably the star performer of the weekend's action. Had been fighting it out with Mike Brown for the No 15 jersey but he full justified his selection with a mercurial display.

14. Tim Visser (Scotland)

Threw down a massive marker for a spot in the Lions XV with two tries against the All Blacks. The Edinburgh winger has proved that he can replicate his domestic form on the international stage - and just seems to get better and better every time he plays.

13. Manu Tuilagi (England)

The England centre might the lack creativity and subtle of some 13s, however he has the pace and power that means he is like a magnet for defenders. He took his two tries well against a tiring Fiji defence, while he was a menace in defence.

12. Gordon D'Arcy (Ireland)

Has perhaps never received the plaudits he deserves but D'Arcy is a quality operator in midfield. Remains a defensive lynchpin for the Irish, while he fought for every inch of ground.

11. Charlie Sharples (England)

Facing a fight to retain his place in the England side to face Australia with Chris Ashton set to return, however the Gloucester wing did his chances of playing no harm with two tries. He finished brilliantly for the first and was in the right place at the right time for the second.

10. Jonny Sexton (Ireland)

Remains the favourite to start at No 10 for the Lions in the summer and further underlined his credentials against South Africa. Was cool and calm under pressure and kicked well.

9. Mike Blair (Scotland)

A lively display from the former Scotland skipper on a difficult day at Murrayfield. He had a hand in one of the three tries and kept trying to get the pack moving forward.

1. Cian Healy (Ireland)

The prop put in the sort of workload that would put many back-rowers to shame. He turned over South African possession and was still run hard late into the game.

2. Tom Youngs (England)

Came into the game with doubts over his lineout abilities but he silenced his critics with an impressive debut. Tougher tests ultimate await the former centre, but the early signs are encouraging.

3. Aaron Jarvis (Wales)

Another man who caught the eye on his debut. One of the very few positives to come out of an abject display from the Welsh, Jarvis did everything that was asked of him and more.

4. Geoff Parling (England)

The Leicester man might not gain the same headlines as some of his team-mates, but he is a crucial cog in the England side. His lineout work gave England a platform to build.

5. Mike McCarthy (Ireland)

A late bloomer on the international stage, the 30-year-old was rightly named man of the match against the Springboks. Taught the Boks one or two things about tackling, while he showed a real willingness with the ball in hand.

6. Tom Johnson (England)

An assured and comfortable display from the Exeter blindside, capped off with a well-deserved try. Johnson now has a fantastic chance to cement a regular place in the side.

7. Dave Denton (Scotland)

Staked a claim for a starting spot after impressing off the bench, although not a natural openside. He ran hard at the All Blacks as he put his shaky domestic form behind him.

8. Toby Faletau (Wales)

Like Jarvis, Faletau could walk off the Millennium Stadium pitch with his head held high. He took the fight to the Pumas in defence and attack and looks to have a bright future ahead of him.