Lions Watch: Six Players Who Stood Out This Weekend

Lions Watch: Six Players Who Stood Out This Weekend

The British and Irish Lions is still some time away but rugby is back in Europe and with it comes the talk of who will tour in 2021.

In a new Ultimate Rugby weekly feature, we take a look at five or more players who stood out over the weekend's European action and how it could enhance their chances of making the tour to South Africa next year.

Naturally only Premiership players were considered this week, with the PRO14 resuming this coming weekend.

Joe Marchant - Harlequins

Marchant will still be seen as somewhat of a bolter for the tour considering his limited test experience but having just returned from a loan stint at the Blues in New Zealand, Marchant is looking more and more appealing.

Warren Gatland has mixed up his centre quite a bit on his previous two tours and may have a keen eye on Marchant who seems more than capable of playing 12, 13 and wing.

Marchant was opposite Manu Tuilagi on Friday last week and kept the England International relatively quiet throughout. Admittedly, Tuilagi was starved of the ball through Harlequins' defence but that in itself is a testament to Marchant applying the defensive pattern in the crucial outside centre role for Quins.

He hardly put a foot wrong against Sale.

Tom Curry - Sale Sharks

Tom Curry put in a performance against Harlequins that would have made both Eddie Jones and Warren Gatland smile.

The 22-year-old is more than likely going to be on his first Lions tour next year and both coaches would have been keen to see how he adapted to the new law interpretations. 

Curry was absolutely everywhere in a losing cause for Sale but was particularly effective come ruck time. He was penalised once or twice but so were many of his potential contenders.

Stuart Hogg - Exeter Chiefs

Few Scottish players have gone on tour with a Warren Gatland British and Irish Lions team but Staurt Hogg looks well on his way to making the squad once again next year.
Hogg had a bit of mare with dotting the ball down over the line during the Six Nations earlier this year but he look sharped as ever for Exeter Chiefs this weekend.
He raced over to finish an excellent set-piece try for Exeter and was solid in every facet of the game. 
The Scottish captain will look to build on a solid return to action and guide Exeter to glory in the coming weeks.
George Ford - Leicester Tigers
There is far from a lack of pivots Warren Gatland could turn to and George Ford is often ranked lowly on pundits list.
This weekend Ford showed exactly what he can bring to the table. He kicked superbly against Exter and marshalled Leicester Tigers around the pitch well but in the end Exeter were just too good with the pack dominating up front.
Ford is set to play a pivotal role in turning Leicester Tigers around under Steve Borthwick and is a regular fixture in the England starting line up.
Jack Willis - Wasps
Jack Willis claimed widespread praise for his performance against Northampton on Sunday and while he is yet to earn a test cap, he could well have caught the eye of both England coach Eddie Jones and Lions coach Warren Gatland. 
Again, Gatland is not short of options when it comes to the back row and Willis would be far down the list but if he is able to force Eddie Jones' hand, who knows what comes next?
A consistent threat over the ball, Willis won a number of penalties for Wasps, scored a try and made two clear turnovers.
Maro Itoje - Saracens
Another near certain to make the tour to South Africa, Maro Itoje has even been tipped for the captaincy.
The powerful England lock was excellent once again against Bristol on Saturday in all facets of the game.
There are concerns whether Itoje and other Lions at Saracens will be game ready come the tour next year but Itoje showed that he was able to hit that high level expected of him from the get go. 

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