Despite being on the losing side in the Six Nations clash between Scotland and Wales on Saturday, Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb laid down a strong marker for his credentials as the British and Irish Lions starting No. 9.
The 28-year-old terrorised Scotland’s defence in Murrayfield, playing a major part in Wales’ only try of the game. Completing 60 passes and notching up a staggering 73 metres made, the Ospreys scrum-half was one of the shining lights in an otherwise disappointing day for the visitors.
Offering a blistering turn of pace and a natural ability when it comes to avoiding scrambling oppositions, Webb has returned to his scintillating best following a series of injuries that interrupted his progress in recent seasons.
Now, off the back of his performance against Scotland and under the watchful eye of British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland, the Welshman has well and truly thrown his name in the mix for the starting No. 9 jersey against New Zealand in the summer.
With Ireland’s Conor Murray turning in a Man of the Match performance against France on Saturday, both he and Webb have put it up their England counterpart Ben Youngs ahead of the Red Rose’s clash with tournament whipping boys Italy.
Youngs has been rather quiet so far in the Six Nations, and with pressure coming from Webb and Murray, he must deliver a strong performance against the Azzurri or risk falling behind the aforementioned duo in the race for Lions selection.
Eddie Jones’ England will be looking to maintain their 100 per cent record in the tournament, with a victory on Sunday taking their winning streak to an incredible 17 test matches.
While the outcome is surely a foregone conclusion, the likes of Youngs must take their opportunity at Twickenham.
Kick-off at England’s headquarters is at 3pm.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena