Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes fighting it out for Lions' Player of the Series 2 months ago

Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes fighting it out for Lions' Player of the Series

Plenty of contenders, on both sides.

When it came to the crunch, Maro Itoje and Robbie Henshaw really stepped up for the Lions. Tadhg Furlong, Courtney Lawes and Jack Conan were not far behind.

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The 2021 British & Irish Lions Tour to South Africa is now in the history books. The Springboks are the victors but the biggest takeaways from the tour are how much rugby thrives of fans, and how the game can't be allowed turn into one big instant replay.

We have gone back through our player ratings, and looked at the Test Series as a whole, to come up with our top Lions and Springboks performers. This, of course, is our take on the leading Lions, so feel free to disagree.

PLAYER OF THE SERIES - Maro Itoje

You may see a trend emerge here. Superb in the First Test, shackled and shaken up in the Second and back to his best in the Third.

Itoje was deservedly Man of the Match in the Lions' only Test win of the series, was quieter in the 27-9 shellacking but still delivered a solid 7/10. He was excellent in the Third Test, but it was not to be for him or the Lions.

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BEST OF THE REST - Robbie Henshaw

A model of consistency and doggedness in the Lions backline. The tourists were always at their most threatening when they got Henshaw involved in their attacks.

Should have been teamed up with Bundee Aki earlier but whether it was in a 12 or 13 jersey, Henshaw worked like a savage in defence and made big carries. His deeds in the Third Test were his finest of the series, including winning the final restart to give his team one more chance.

A note here for FINN RUSSELL - 8/10 and a brave performance in his one and only Test outing of the series.

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OTHER LEADING CONTENDERS - Tadhg Furlong, Courtney Lawes, Jack Conan

Lions

More consistent than world-beating, the Lions trio all had big moments smattered across the series. Furlong held up his side of the scrum very well and was busy around the pitch.

Conan and Lawes both dipped after great First Test outings, but rebounded to put their side in the frame in the decider.

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THE STEADIES AND NOT-SO-STEADIES

The next rung down the performance ladder features players that all scored, on average, with the exception of Bundee Aki (7/10 in his one outing). That includes Duhan van der Merwe, Conor Murray, Ali Price, Dan Biggar, Mako Vunipola, Wyn Jones, Tadhg Beirne, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Josh Adams, Kyle Sinckler, Tom Curry, Sam Simmonds and Alun Wyn Jones.

The remaining players - Stuart Hogg, Liam Williams, Anthony Watson, Chris Harris, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, Rory Sutherland, Ken Owens, and Adam Beard - all had shaky moments and will look back with some regret on the Test Series.

BEST SPRINGBOK

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As for the Springboks' Player of the Series, with notable mentions for Franco Mostert, Lukhanyo Am, Siya Kolisi and Damien De Allende, we award it to this man:

What a series he had.

LISTEN TO HOUSE OF RUGBY'S LIONS SERIES: EPISODE 10