Ireland players: Facts, figures and analysis

Jamie Heaslip returns from injury to take his place at number eight for the Six Nations match against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Photograph:   James Crombie/Inpho

Jamie Heaslip returns from injury to take his place at number eight for the Six Nations match against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

IRELAND 15 Rob Kearney Age: 28 Height: 1.85m (6’1”) Weight: 95kg (15st) Caps: 60 Tries: 10 (1 conversion) Having worked with the Welsh coaching staff during his time with the British and Irish Lions they are unlikely to offer him aerial fodder.

14 Tommy Bowe Age: 31 Height: 1.91m (6’3”) Weight: 96kg (15st 2lbs) Caps: 59 Tries: 28 Play hasn’t really run his way in the tournament so far based on Ireland’s game plan and also hos things have fallen. He has the knack of scoring important tries.

13 Jared Payne Age: 29 Height: 1.88m (6’2”) Weight: 94kg (14st 13lbs) Caps: 4 Tries: 0 Just get a feeling that Jared Payne has settled into the jersey and is about to offer an illustration of how good a rugby player he can be.

12 Robbie Henshaw Age: 21 Height: 1.91m (6’3”) Weight: 100kg (15st 10lbs) Caps: 8 Tries: 1 Yet another potential milestone on the road to becoming a top quality Test player. He’s got a serious benchmarking process this afternoon.

11 Simon Zebo Age: 24 Height: 1.88m (6’2”) Weight: 94kg (14st 13lbs) Caps: 14 Tries: 5 He wants to get his hands on the ball more often now and he’s not alone in hoping for that to be the case. He’ll need to be switched on and courageous given his opponent.

10 Jonathan Sexton Age: 29 Height: 1.88m (6’2”) Weight: 92kg (14st 6lbs) Caps: 49 Points: 452 (8 tries) Every little wince will stop a few Irish heartbeats while it’s fair to say that a few novenas will be said to protect his hamstring. He’s a key player in today’s encounter.

9 Conor Murray Age: 25 Height: 1.88m (6’2”) Weight: 94kg (14st 13lbs) Caps: 33 Tries: 3 His box-kicking, like his general game, has been foot perfect for the most part in this Six Nations tournament but will require a little more nuance as Wales will be well prepared .

1 Jack McGrath Age: 25 Height: 1.85m (6’1”) Weight: 118kg (18st 8lbs) Caps: 15 Tries: 1 It’ll be an interesting test in the scrum against his highly rated opponent. He has a massive work-rate, is a very effective ball carrier but needs to be squeaky clean at rucks.

2 Rory Best Age: 32 Height: 1.80m (5’11”) Weight: 110kg (17st 4lbs) Caps: 81 Tries: 8 He was absolutely outstanding against England and would have been a deserved man-of-the-match for his ground work and accuracy.

3 Mike Ross Age: 35 Height: 1.88m (6’2”) Weight: 127kg (19st 13lbs) Caps: 47 Tries: 0 In the past he’s been able to force a penalty or two out of Welsh prop Gethin Jenkins. He’s not always given deserved credit for his contribution outside of the scrum.

4 Devin Toner Age: 28 Height: 2.08m (6’10”) Weight: 124kg (19st 10lbs) Caps: 23 Tries: 0 This match will be the biggest test for Ireland’s lineout and the Leinster player faces an opponent in Luke Charteris who’s just one inch shorter, so the movement and timing of the Irish jumpers will have to be slick.

5 Paul O’Connell (capt) Age: 35 Height: 1.98m (6’6”) Weight: 112kg (17st 8lbs) Caps: 99 Tries: 6 What hasn’t been said already about Ireland’s latest centurion as a person, player and overall leader? The only thing that he’ll care about this afternoon is doing his utmost to ensure that the team triumphs.

6 Peter O’Mahony Age: 25 Height: 1.91m (6’3”) Weight: 107kg (16st 11lbs) Caps: 28 Tries: 1 He’ll relish the intensity of the collisions and hostility of the atmosphere in the Millennium Stadium. Contests of this ilk are tailor-made for his skill-sets. 7 Seán O’Brien Age: 28 Height: 1.88m (6’2”) Weight: 108kg (16st 13lbs) Caps: 32 Tries: 3 Ireland will need to use him cleverly against a Welsh backrow that likes a chop-tackle or five to maximise his impact in the game.

8 Jamie Heaslip Age: 31 Height: 1.93m (6’4”) Weight: 110kg (17st 4lbs) Caps: 70 Tries: 9 He’s back from injury and his work-rate, wily game management and ability to do the right thing at the right time will be required more than ever.

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