Ireland Player by player
JOHN O'SULLIVANlooks at the Irish team
14 Craig Gilroy
Age: 21. Height: 1.83m (6ft). Weight: 90kg (14st 2lbs).
Has great balance, with an ability to step off either foot. Possesses a remarkable capacity to bounce out of tackles.
10 Jonathan Sexton
Age: 27. Height: 1.88 (6ft 2in). Weight: 92kg (14st 6lbs).
Team’s primary game manager. Last year Ireland didn’t make the best use of possession. They must do so today. Key player and will relish that role.
12 Gordon D’Arcy
Age: 32. Height: 1.80m (5ft 11in). Weight: 93kg (14st 9lbs).
He will do the lion’s share of the heavy lifting in midfield in ball-carrying terms. He’s used to physical mismatches. In good form.
11 Simon Zebo
Age: 22. Height: 1.83m (6ft). Weight: 96kg (15st 1lb).
Player capable of energising a team and the crowd. His team-mates will want to create space and then watch him go.
13 Brian O’Driscoll
Age: 34. Height: 1.75m (5ft 9in). Weight: 95kg (14st 13lbs).
Welsh won’t take their eyes off him for a second. Engages multiple defenders, creates and finishes.
9 Conor Murray
Age: 23. Height: 1.83 (6ft). Weight: 86kg (13st 7lbs).
If Ireland are looking to play with a high tempo he’ll need to be quick across the ground and in delivery. Good eye for breaking and a strong defender.
15 Rob Kearney
Age: 26. Height: 1.85m (6ft 1in). Weight: 95 kg (14st 13lbs)
Brilliant in the air, Ireland will want to get him involved with ball in hand, running sharp support lines.
8 Jamie Heaslip
Age: 29. Height: 1.91 (6ft 3in). Weight: 109kgs (17st 2lbs).
Brings footballing intelligence that is occasionally overlooked. Great players have good instincts and habits under pressure. .
4 Mike McCarthy
Age: 31. Height: 1.93 (6ft 4in). Weight: 100kgs (16st 7lbs).
Another with prodigious appetite for graft. Feisty and abrasive but will need to make sure he doesn’t cross the line.
6 Peter O’Mahony
Age: 23. Height: 1.91 (6ft 3in). Weight: 105kgs (16st 7lbs).
Won’t take a backward step with or without the ball. He’ll be in Welsh faces all day and happy to stand toe-to-toe. A real team dynamo.
1 Cian Healy
Age: 25. Height: 1.83 (6’).
Weight: 110kg (17st 4lbs).
He’s in great form and his ball-carrying will be a huge asset. He breaks tackles, runs like a centre and his hands are pretty decent too.
7 Seán O’Brien
Age: 25. Height: 1.88. (6ft 2in). Weight: 108kgs (17st).
Ireland need to be more clever in the way they use him to maximise his impact. Brilliant ball-carrier, especially when running off the backs.
5 Donnacha Ryan
Age: 29. Height: 1.98m (6ft 6in). Weight: 108kgs (17st).
Has taken over from the injured Paul O’Connell as Ireland’s lineout guru and to very good effect. He’s a super athlete who covers every blade of grass.
3 Mike Ross
Age: 33. Height: 1.88m (6ft 2in). Weight: 116kgs (18st 3lbs)
Cornerstone of scrum, he’ll be up against a Lion but one that hasn’t seen a lot of game time since moving to France. Might exploit that.
2 Rory Best
Age: 30. Height: 1.80m (5ft11in). Weight: 100kg (17st 4lbs).
Strong in the scrum, he’ll be looking for a good afternoon in terms of the lineout duties. Massive work-rate and selfless in all he does.