Six Nations 2019: Ireland player profiles

Patrick Madden looks at Joe Schmidt’s starting XV to take on England

The Ireland team to play England pictured after  the Captain’s Run at the  Aviva stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The Ireland team to play England pictured after the Captain’s Run at the Aviva stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

15 Robbie Henshaw (Leinster)

Age: 25
Height: 6’ 3”
Weight: 105kg (16st 3lb)
Caps: 36

A surprise selection at fullback – but providing he remembers the ropes it could be inspired. Has the ability in the air, as well as a booming boot.

14 Keith Earls (Munster)

Age: 31
Height: 5’ 10”
Weight: 87kg (13st 9lbs)
Caps: 72

Retains his dancing feet and an eye for a score, but can sometimes be starved of ball. A dependable presence going forward and defensively.

13 Garry Ringrose (Leinster)

Age: 24
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 94kg (14st 11lbs)
Caps: 17

A coming of age tournament lies in store for Ringrose, who has established himself as Ireland’s first-choice outside centre. Silky on the ball, defensively excellent off it – it’s hard to believe it’s not BOD.

12 Bundee Aki (Connacht)

Age: 28
Height: 6’
Weight: 101kg (15st 12lbs)
Caps: 12

Aki’s performances have made him impossible to drop. A bone-shuddering match-up with Manu Tuilagi awaits. Aki has the nous to emerge on top.

11 Jacob Stockdale (Ulster)

Age: 22
Height: 6’ 3”
Weight: 103kg (16st 3lbs)
Caps: 14

The boy wonder has now scored 12 tries in his 14 Test matches, including seven during last year’s Six Nations. The kick-ahead try which sank the All Blacks is becoming his trademark.

10 Jonathan Sexton (Leinster)

Age: 33
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 92kg (14st 6lbs)
Caps: 78

The World Player of the Year is in the form of his life and is reunited with Conor Murray. As ever, Ireland’s Championship hopes will largely rest on his brilliant shoulders.

9 Conor Murray (Munster)

Age: 29
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 93kg (14st 6lbs)
Caps: 67

Murray missed the November series but he’s back to resume his partnership with Sexton. Between them they dictate the tempo, while his kicking from the base is integral to Ireland’s gameplan.

Cian Healy is back to his best in the Ireland frontrow. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
Cian Healy is back to his best in the Ireland frontrow. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

1 Cian Healy (Leinster)

Age: 31
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 106kg (18st 1lb)
Caps: 84

Three years after his career was on the brink Healy is in the form of his life. A sleeker machine these days, he retains his destructive ability with the ball in hand and at the scrum.

2 Rory Best (Ulster)

Age: 36
Height: 5’ 11”
Weight: 106kg (16st 9lbs)
Caps: 113

His throwing at the lineout will be under scrutiny – if he’s in the groove then Ireland’s set-piece is the best in the tournament. At 36-years-old he is wily at the breakdown and a fine leader.

3 Tadhg Furlong (Leinster)

Age: 26
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 126kg (19st 11lbs)
Caps: 28

One of Ireland’s trump cards, the rampaging Furlong is legitimately world class. The best tighthead on the planet, his blend of physicality and cunning is a joy to behold.

4 Devin Toner (Leinster)

Age: 32
Height: 6’ 10”
Weight: 124kg (19st 7lb)
Caps: 63

You don’t realise how integral Toner is to this Ireland team until he isn’t there. Runs a brilliant lineout operation and is key at the restart.

5 James Ryan (Leinster)

Age: 22
Height: 6’ 8”
Weight: 108kg (17st)
Caps: 13

Ryan has tasted defeat just once in 13 Test matches, and already has a Grand Slam and a win over the All Blacks under his belt. A relentless carrier and tackler – the sky is the limit.

6 Peter O’Mahony (Munster)

Age: 29
Height: 6’ 3”
Weight: 107kg (16st 11lbs)
Caps: 52

An immense physical battle awaits and O’Mahony will be at the heart of it. Crucial in the lineout, Munster talisman will drag England into the trenches.

7 Josh van der Flier (Leinster)

Age: 25
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 104kg (16st 5lbs)
Caps: 13

Incumbent number seven – despite Sean O’Brien’s return to fitness – thanks to a stunning performance against the All Blacks. Expect to see his red scrum cap cover every blade of Aviva grass.

8 CJ Stander (Munster)

Age: 28
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 114kg (17st 13lbs)
Caps: 28

Yet to miss a Six Nations game since making debut in 2016 opener against Wales. Renowned for his ball carrying, his work off it is just as important.

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