James Davies’ man-of-the-match performance for Wales in their 23-10 victory in Argentina at the weekend, after scoring his first Test try and securing three crucial turnovers, set us thinking about the ‘turnover kings’ of last season’s Champions Cup.
Here were the individuals who topped the charts:
Leading the charge was Davies’ Scarlets team-mate last season, lock Tadhg Beirne, who was a crucial reason behind the Welsh region’s progress to the semi-finals with 18 turnovers – seven more than his nearest rival.
The 26-year-old Irishman, who will switch to Munster Rugby on his return from Ireland’s tour to Australia, was also awarded the 2018 Try of the Season for finishing off Scarlets’ superb team effort against Bath Rugby in their 35-17 win at the Recreation Ground in January.
The leading turnover artists are normally forwards, but powerful Montpellier centre Frans Steyn proved an exception to the rule with 11 for the French club as they finished third in Pool 3 behind eventual champions Leinster Rugby and Exeter Chiefs.
The 31-year-old South African, who won 56 caps for the Springboks including the 2007 World Cup final, has made 22 European appearances for Montpellier and Racing 92, with all but three coming in the European Cup, and scored 71 points, many from long-distance goal-kicks.
Like Steyn, an experienced operator at the breakdown, Dave Ward achieved nine turnovers for Harlequins last season, when the English club finished fourth in Pool 1.
The 33-year-old forward is predominantly a hooker, but he has played as a flanker, which may be explains his expertise at the ruck. He has made 33 European appearances, with the first three coming for Bath Rugby before his switch to Harlequins in 2012.
Wasps flanker Thomas Young also notched nine turnovers last season in Pool 1, where the Coventry club were placed second behind La Rochelle.
The 26-year-old son of Wasps director of rugby Dai has been a regular starter in Wasps’ Champions Cup line-up in the past two seasons, after being a replacement in the previous two, and now has 18 outings to his credit.
Exeter hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie was the youngest member of last season’s top six turnover specialists, as he doesn’t celebrate his 25th birthday until June 20.
Nevertheless, the England forward is becoming a growing influence in Exeter’s Champions Cup campaigns and in addition to chalking up eight turnovers last season, he scored a try against eventual winners Leinster Rugby in their Pool 3 tie on December 16.
Levani Botia also recorded eight turnovers despite playing in only five matches for La Rochelle last season as they stormed to the top of Pool 1 in their maiden Champions Cup campaign.
Unfortunately for the French club, the 29-year-old Fijian flanker, who can also play in the centre or on the wing, had to be substituted after 24 minutes of their quarter-final at Scarlets and they went down 29-17.