Ireland v England - Ireland player profiles

John O’Sullivan looks at the Irish starting XV to face England

 

15 Jared Payne
Age
: 31
Height: 6’
Weight: 98kg (15st 6lbs)
Caps: 19
Points: 20

Once fully fit he was always a strong contender to return irrespective of injuries because he brings vision, handling, running and kicking skills and is an excellent defender.

14 Keith Earls
Age
: 29
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 90kg (14st 2lbs)
Caps: 58
Points: 110

He demonstrated his excellent footwork and ability to beat players in confined spaces but he really needs the latitude to be given a chance to make definitive line breaks not trying to work miracles with slow, static ball.

13 Garry Ringrose
Age
: 22
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 92kg (14st 6lbs)
Caps: 7
Points: 10

To maximise his impact in attack Ireland need to work a little room to profit from his balance, lines of running and ability to sit down defenders. This will be a big test of his reading of the game in defence.

12 Robbie Henshaw
Age
: 23
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 95kg (14st 13lbs)
Caps: 28
Points: 10

Ireland’s most effective player against Wales in a high calibre performance both in defence and attack, he is not one dimensional in possession and deserves the chance to reinforce that assertion.

11 Simon Zebo
Age
: 26
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 98kg (15st 6lbs)
Caps: 32
Points: 40

If the team is going to benefit from his presence then it would be preferable to use his footwork coming off the outhalf or between the centres rather than have him await the ball in an orthodox fashion.

10 Jonathan Sexton
Age
: 31
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 92kg (14st 6lbs)
Caps: 65
Points: 607

Pinned to the bottom of a ruck, the yellow card would have absolutely grated, but when he was on the pitch, he demonstrated just how important he is to the team’s central function.

9 Kieran Marmion
Age
: 25
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 84kg (13st 3lbs)
Caps: 12
Points: 5

He gets his chance in the absence of the injured Conor Murray but his last two appearances off the bench were hugely encouraging. Hopefully he’s encouraged to play his natural game, complete with the sniping breaks.

1 Jack McGrath
Age
: 27
Height: 6’
Weight: 120kg (18st 12lbs)
Caps: 40
Points: 10

There is an obvious Lions connotation to his tussle with Dan Cole not that either will care for the 80 minutes. Apart from his work-rate, which is a given, it would be nice to see make broken-field carries.

2 Rory Best
Age
: 34
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 105kg (16st 7lbs)
Caps: 103
Points: 40

Three lineouts lost against Wales will smart and they come up against arguably the best defensive one in the tournament. He’ll be at the epicentre of the game, one for cool heads in the heat of the battle.

3 Tadhg Furlong
Age
: 24
Height: 6’
Weight: 119kg (18st 10lbs)
Caps: 15
Points: 0

He’ll want to put a few handling errors the last day behind him and return to the powerful carrying of previous matches. The scrum is an obvious arm wrestle and he’ll be crucial in that respect.

4 Donnacha Ryan
Age
: 33
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 114 (17st 13lbs)
Caps: 46
Points: 0

A huge tackle count the last day but he’ll be hoping there’s more to do in terms of going forward. Ireland didn’t compete well on the Welsh lineout - an area to improve upon.

5 Iain Henderson
Age
: 25
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 112kg (17st 8lbs)
Caps: 31
Points: 20

He gives Ireland more mobility and athleticism but in the absence of Ireland’s normal lineout caller, he’ll take some responsibility along with his secondrow partner. A superb footballer at his best, which is what he’ll need to be.

6 CJ Stander
Age
: 26
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 114kg (17st 13lbs)
Caps: 14
Points: 30

England will try to do exactly what Wales did and double or triple team him in possession so he needs to pick and choose where possible when to carry and when to pass or offload.

7 Seán O’Brien
Age
: 30
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 108kg (17st)
Caps: 48
Points: 30

He was often asked to take slow static ball and turn it into something productive. Shifting him to the wider channels from time to time would have obvious benefits.

8 Jamie Heaslip
Age
: 33
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 109kg (17st 2lbs)
Caps: 95
Points: 65

His handling lacked his usual assurance but not the graft. He’s been questioned in the past and found the desired response. This would be a timely rebuttal of his critics.

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