Team of the Week: Champions Cup standouts combine in European club XV
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 10/12/18 10:57am
After another busy weekend of European Cup rugby, some 10 clubs are represented in our team of the week...
Find out who makes our cut and have your say when it comes to the most influential player of the weekend with our vote below...
15. Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks)
Our only representative from the Challenge Cup this week, Sale's Ashton gets in after his history-making weekend in Europe.
The England back has been in superb form over the last three years for Saracens, Toulon, England and now Sale, and with his two tries in victory at Bordeaux-Begles he became the first man in European competition history to pass the 50 try mark (39 European Cup, 12 Challenge Cup).
One of the most deadly finishers around. Chapeau!
14. Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse)
What a little gem Kolbe is proving this season in the colours of Toulouse and the Springboks. The diminutive wing's feet are outstanding, his pace is top notch and in terms of physicality, he punches far beyond his weight.
He scored another sensational solo try on Saturday as Toulouse made it three wins from three after a 24-16 victory over Wasps at the Ricoh Arena.
The 25-year-old beat some 10 defenders and made 95 metres in attack - more than anyone else.
13. Will Addison (Ulster)
What a start to life at Ulster versatile former Sale Shark Addison has made.
Unheralded in Ireland before his move in the summer, the 26-year-old is now a capped Irish international and has proved one of the signings of the season.
Against the Scarlets on Friday, Addison showed his superb balance and running ability. His break from deep for Jacob Stockdale's try was superb, while the line he took to score himself was terrific too.
Addison outshone opposite number Jonathan Davies in Llanelli to take the man of the match award - and that is no easy task.
12. Julian Savea (Toulon)
Former All Black Julian Savea has hardly set the world alight at Toulon since joining in the summer, and on Saturday he was named to start against Montpellier in the unfamiliar position of inside-centre.
Indeed it was just the second occasion in Savea's senior career that he started a game in the 12 shirt, but the back looked electric as Toulon won 38-28.
The 28-year-old finished the game in the top five for both carries and metres made, beat five defenders and created the the try bonus-point score for Filipo Nakosi with a fabulous piece of individual play.
11. Ollie Thorley (Gloucester)
Gloucester's 22-year-old wing is playing some of the best stuff in European club rugby at present, and his performance in victory over Exeter on Saturday was first-class again.
Blessed with pace, quick feet and a seriously hard-line running game, Thorley has been ripping teams apart with ball in hand in the Premiership this season and stepped up in the Champions Cup at Sandy Park by carving the Chiefs apart.
The wing made 139 metres in attack, beat two defenders and made two clean breaks - both of which led to tries. His run and offload for Willi Heinz's effort was fantastic.
10. JJ Hanrahan (Munster)
Named to start on the bench for Munster against Castres at Thomond Park on Sunday, Hanrahan was a late call-up to the starting team after injury forced the withdrawal of Joey Carbery.
Despite the disruption, Hanrahan settled into the game excellently and would finish it with a 20-point individual haul and a man of the match award as Munster won 30-5.
The 26-year-old was 100 per cent off the kicking tee, sharp around the park and finished off a wonderful team move to score a try as well.
9. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors)
Glasgow's Horne is performing to such a standard this season, it is fair now to look upon him as one of the most exciting prospects in Europe.
The scrum-half was lethal in the danger zone yet again on Saturday as the Warriors beat Lyon 42-22 in France.
The 23-year-old's speed of foot, speed of service and speed of thought mark him out as a tremendously attacking half-back. Saturday saw him beat four defenders, make four breaks, score a vital try right before half-time and earn one classy try assist.
1. Eric O'Sullivan (Ulster)
Ulster began with little-known 23-year-old O'Sullivan at loosehead in the side on Friday when they headed to face the Scarlets in a pivotal clash.
The prop wasn't even playing professional rugby this time last year, and yet at Parc-y-Scarlets he showed up time and again, making a phenomenal 22 tackles.
Ulster put in the performance of their season to date to come away with a bonus-point 25-24 win, and it was largely built on the effort of the forwards and work ethic from O'Sullivan.
2. Rory Best (Ulster)
Beside O'Sullivan both for his province and in our team is Ulster skipper Best, who put in a monumentally gritty performance to lead his side over the line in West Wales.
At 36, Best proved there is still plenty of life in him yet with an unyieldingly physical display. The hooker is an absolute nuisance at both the breakdown and maul, regularly slowing down or turning over ball.
Friday saw him excel in these areas again, while his work rate around the pitch contributed to the Ulster pack getting on top of their Scarlets counterparts.
3. WP Nel (Edinburgh)
The nucleus of Edinburgh's bonus-point victory over Newcastle at Murrayfield on Friday night proved their scrum - something which was slightly expected due to the Falcons' injury crisis at tighthead.
Even still, you can only play what's in front of you - as the old cliche goes. Nel and co earned five decisions out of the referee from eight scrums - three of which came in the Newcastle 22 - and one of which resulted in a critical penalty try.
4. Gerbrandt Grobler (Gloucester)
Perhaps the standout result from the latest round of European action was Gloucester's surprise 27-19 victory away at Premiership high-flyers Exeter.
The loss was Exeter's first at home this season and first in nearly a year, while it was just their second defeat at Sandy Park in two years.
Key to Gloucester's success was the performance of second row Grobler, who was immense. The South African made 20 tackles - the most of anyone - made 12 carries - only Jake Polledri made more (16) in Gloucester colours - beat two defenders, claimed four lineout balls and made three crucial steals.
5. James Ryan (Leinster)
Leinster were far from their best as they ground out a victory at Bath on Saturday, but lock Ryan was typically impressive.
Still just 22-years-old, Ryan seems to have a habit of finishing matches with both more carries and more tackles than anyone else - a trait which is exceedingly rare in the game.
At the Rec, he made 14 carries and 17 tackles - neither figure was eclipsed by any other player on the park. Ryan also claimed two lineouts and stole one.
6. Francois Louw (Bath)
Playing in the No 8 shirt for Bath on Saturday, we've swapped Louw to the flank to get him into our team such were the aspects to his performance.
The Springbok may have been on the losing side against Leinster at the Rec but he put in an absolute masterclass at the breakdown.
Each time the defending champions entered in or around the Bath 22 with any menace it seemed to be Louw who would appear from under a mountain of bodies, ball clutched in hand having earned a jackal penalty.
On three occasions Louw quelled Leinster attacks as such, while he combined with Sam Underhill to turn the ball over directly before Henry Thomas scored the opening try. Mightily impressive.
7. Chris Cloete (Munster)
The second of three South Africans to make up our backrow this week, Munster's Cloete was back to somewhere near his best against Castres on Sunday.
When the openside joined Munster last season he put in a series of stunning displays before breaking his forearm in February. A groin injury delayed his return this season and his performances had yet to reach the heights of 2017/18 - that was until Sunday.
The 27-year-old excelled at the breakdown, turning over the ball three times, while he was also notably enforced as a link man at Thomond Park.
Cloete, Peter O'Mahony and Tadhg Beirne in tandem at the breakdown is about as potent as it gets.
8. Marcell Coetzee (Ulster)
There were a plethora of striking No 8 options to choose from this week, but Coetzee earns the shirt after a huge display for Ulster in victory over the Scarlets.
The Bok made an exceptional 21 tackles, contributed 12 carries and scored the pivotal bonus-point securing try.
A mention for Edinburgh's Viliame Mata - who made an extraordinary 27 carries against Newcastle at Murrayfield - and also for Saracens' 20-year-old Ben Earl - who came on to change the game against Cardiff Blues in the second half, scoring twice.