Ireland Grand Slam squad ratings: The 32 players who delivered the perfect Six Nations campaign

John O’Sullivan looks back over the five games and hands out the marks for Andy Farrell’s squad

Hugo Keenan (Leinster)

Vying for Ireland’s player of the tournament, he was consistently superb in all aspects of his role, scoring tries against France and Italy, and generally adding value. Out on his own in terms of the fullback position. Rating: 9

Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster)

Eight minutes as a replacement against Italy was followed by half a game against England, when he came on for Keenan. He needs consistent game time at Leinster now to further his international ambitions. Rating: 6

Mack Hansen (Connacht)

He played all 400 minutes, scored three tries, provided his team with a significant cutting edge in attack, both in terms of footwork, running and his passing. One or two things to tidy up in defence if you wanted to nitpick. Rating: 9

Garry Ringrose (Leinster)

His absence from the Irish backline serves to reinforce all he does when present. Won his 50th cap during the campaign, scored a try against France and remains a key player for his country. Rating: 8


Stuart McCloskey (Ulster)

He started the first three matches, solid and secure in his input, before losing his place at inside centre to Bundee Aki. The Champions Cup game against Leinster is like a mini-Irish trial with context for later in the year. Rating: 7

Bundee Aki (Connacht)

Benched initially, he started in the unfamiliar role of 13 against Italy, scoring a try before reverting to inside centre. His power, on both sides of the ball, was a huge asset, so too were the subtleties of his passing. Rating: 8

Robbie Henshaw (Leinster)

He got 14 minutes against Scotland to blow away the cobwebs of three months of inactivity. Against England was back to his rumbustious, try-scoring best, slipping seamlessly into the role of outside centre. Rating: 7

James Lowe (Leinster)

Another who played every minute of the campaign, he scored tries in three of the five matches, making a huge contribution to Ireland’s best moments. His kicking and carrying give the team a different dimension. Rating: 8

Johnny Sexton (Leinster, capt)

Lightning rod for many of Ireland’s best moments in the tournament, his leadership, game management and qualities as a player shone through. The Grand Slam is a fitting end to his Six Nations career, signing off by breaking the tournament’s points scoring record. Rating: 9

Ross Byrne (Leinster)

His Test rejuvenation came against Australia last autumn with his match-winning penalty and he has carried through the understudy role with measured efficiency, including a start against Italy. Rating: 7

Jack Crowley (Munster)

It’s unfair to offer any mark for a player who was given just three minutes off the bench against Italy. His challenge is to go away and fight for the 10 jersey at Munster and to continue to progress his game. Rating: N/A

Conor Murray (Munster)

Showed great mental strength to cope with his dad’s accident while managing to play Test rugby. Ireland’s newest centurion started three matches, where he showed he retains the quality to fulfil the back-up role at nine. Rating: 7

Craig Casey (Munster)

He brought a nice tempo to Ireland’s patterns off the bench against Wales and France before getting a start against Italy. He’s still learning and that’s where the scope to improve lies, his game-management skills. Rating: 6

Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster)

He returned from injury for his first match of the tournament against Scotland and produced a marvellous 27 minutes that changed the shape of the contest. His pace and vision provide Ireland with a different dimension. Rating: 7

Andrew Porter (Leinster)

A monumental physical effort, his input, durability, work-rate and selflessness were hugely impressive attributes that underpinned his game. In terms of scrum work may need to offer a different picture to referees. Rating: 8

Cian Healy (Leinster)

Little did he know that in his first appearance of the campaign against Scotland he would play a pivotal if unfamiliar role of hooker. His capacity to do that was vital to the outcome. Rating: 6

Dave Kilcoyne (Munster)

He racked up 34 minutes off the bench in the first three matches of the tournament before losing his spot to Healy in the matchday 23. Another who needs to have a big finish to the season at provincial level to make it to France. Rating: 6

Dan Sheehan (Leinster)

Ireland’s first-choice hooker, he’s had a brilliant tournament and in some respects the way in which he scored the two tries against England sum up his athleticism, speed and power to go with his lineout throwing prowess. Rating: 8

Rónan Kelleher (Leinster)

Returned after injury and was just building a solid body of work when suffering that shoulder injury against Scotland. No one doubts his ability, he just needs a run of matches. Rating: 6

Rob Herring (Ulster)

Seven minutes against Wales and a failed HIA against France after 25 minutes made it a frustrating campaign, albeit that ended in a try-scoring high against England. Another excellent team player. Rating: 6

Finlay Bealham (Connacht)

Filled all the duties of the tighthead role impressively, including a nuanced passing game for two and a half matches before injury cruelly ruled him out for the remainder of the tournament. Rating: 7

Tom O’Toole (Ulster)

A replacement in all five matches, he has come of age in this tournament, serving due notice with his carrying against France and offering proof that his scrum work has progressed by winning several penalties. Rating: 7

Tadhg Furlong (Leinster)

His performance against Scotland, having not played since the first week in December, was a physical marvel and there was also going to be a bit of a legacy in the England game, where his passing let him down on occasion. Rating: 6

James Ryan (Leinster)

An astonishing physical shift, he played all 400 minutes, scored two tries but it is the body of copy beneath the headlines that’s so impressive. He worked tirelessly and very effectively for the team and led in every respect. Rating: 9

Tadhg Beirne (Munster)

Typically industrious and effective before an injury in the game against France ended his involvement. He will be a key figure in Ireland’s World Cup challenge later in the year. Rating: 6

Iain Henderson (Ulster)

He had gradually played himself back into form when a broken arm against Scotland ended the campaign. He works hard to make sure that the team functions smoothly, a selfless performer. Rating: 7

Ryan Baird (Leinster)

His all-round game has matured beyond just being a brilliant athlete and that was evident when given the opportunity in the final three games, especially his contribution in starting the Grand Slam decider against England. Rating: 7

Kieran Treadwell (Ulster)

Limited to a late cameo against England – so not fair to rate him – he proved his worth in New Zealand last summer and now has to go back to Ulster and impress again for the remainder of the season. Rating: N/A

Peter O’Mahony (Munster)

If you’re looking for the epitome of a team player, then his picture is above the definition. He made an important difference when coming on against Italy while in his four starts he repeatedly made a significant and positive impact. Rating: 8

Josh van der Flier (Leinster)

A try scorer against Wales, he played every minute of all five matches, a staggering physical effort for a player that was at the epicentre of the collisions in both attack and defence. His lineout throwing wasn’t bad either: an outstanding contributor. Rating: 9

Caelan Doris (Leinster)

One of Ireland’s standout performers, he scored a try against Wales. Playing him at blindside negates his influence as the Italian match demonstrated. He gives Ireland a different dimension in attack and is a consistent breakdown threat. Rating: 8

Jack Conan (Leinster)

He got better as the tournament progressed, properly representing his talent, especially in a try-scoring cameo against Scotland and an equally impressive stint off the bench against England. Rating: 7

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer