Subscriber OnlySix Nations

How Ireland’s Six Nations squad rated: A championship win raises all boats

Back-to-back championship wins show the high quality of the players in this Irish team

Hugo Keenan: Started at fullback against France, Italy and England before injury struck. Has made the position his own and gave Ireland an additional threat when he was fit. Great all-round game supporting runners and defensive duties. Rating: 8

Calvin Nash: Five of his six Irish caps came in the Six Nations in his debut year on the wing but he lasted just five minutes against England and went off with a head injury. Scored against France and Italy, he stepped up well to the Test level. Rating: 7

Robbie Henshaw: Played in all the games for 80 minutes except Italy when he went off after 63 minutes. A big game player when Ringrose was injured he took his chance and held it. Athletic and assertive around the pitch on both sides of the ball. Rating: 8

Bundee Aki: Played against France, Wales, England and Scotland for 80 minutes in each match. Was one of Ireland’s standout players with his all-round game of tackling, turnovers and strong ball carries. Many people’s player of the tournament. Rating: 9


James Lowe: Everybody’s favourite winger played in all five games for 80 minutes, scored four tries and made more metres than anyone — 374m. Only Duhan van der Merwe and Dan Sheehan outscored him. Relief kicking, diving into mauls, finding the try line all excellent. Rating: 9

Jack Crowley: Started at outhalf and finished all five games. Against Scotland went to fullback. Topped the conversions table with 13, beating French kicker Thomas Ramos. Has poise and presence and will get better on options. France was his first Six Nations start. Rating: 8

Jamison Gibson Park: Started in four games and came on for eight minutes against Italy. A specialist who can be deployed on the wing, his play often determines how Ireland are going. Shifting tempo, tackling and kicking pivotal to Irish success. Rating: 8

Andrew Porter: A freak Cian Healy called him. Started in all five matches and never wavered from the hugely physical input. Stopping players and making hard yards around the park was rewarded against Scotland with a try. A blood and guts player. Rating: 8

Dan Sheehan: One of the most dynamic hookers in the game, he played in all five matches for 50 or 60 minutes. A superb ball carrier and a good nose for the line peeling off from Ireland’s attacking lineouts. He topped the scoring charts with five tries. Rating: 8

Tadgh Furlong: Starting tighthead prop for four games and didn’t play against Italy. Battled in the scrums, popped up for carries often for small gains. A couple of nice touches as first receiver and often had to make his ground in heavy traffic. Rating: 8

Joe McCarthy: Started in all five games in his first Six Nations Championship and made an impression as a force of nature and laid down markers all over the place. He has the power and footwork to face more experienced players and at 22 years old will get better. Rating: 7

Tadhg Beirne: Did not face Italy and played two full games against France in the first game and England and earned 50th cap against Scotland. Huge work rate and regular lineout option. He has made the non-flashy graft work look sexy. Rating: 9

Peter O’Mahony: Started in four games, missing the Italians, his leadership qualities were a huge asset. Was always a nuisance around the pitch and an important lineout option. Two yellow cards were unfortunate but he led Ireland to a championship win. Rating: 7

Josh van der Flier: He started in four matches and came on against Italy and got better as the tournament progressed. Typically abrasive at the coalface, cleaning out and looking for turnover penalties, never fails to roll up his sleeves. Rating: 7

Caelan Doris: Like Lowe played all 400 minutes as a number 8 and openside flanker against Italy. Showed what a great athlete he is. Game reading, footwork and speed around the pitch and taking on the grunt work when needed against Scotland. Rating: 8

Jordan Larmour: Started at fullback against Scotland and before that came off the bench for 17 minutes against Italy. Never had the opportunity to get himself into positions against Scotland where he is at his best attacking space. A welcome return. Rating: 7

Ronan Kelleher: Came off the bench five times for Sheehan for between 17 and 26 minutes. A specialist job, he always made an impact as a replacement by stepping into character instantly and maintaining the level. A difficult job done well. Rating: 7

Cian Healy: Got 27 minutes against France and came on at the tail end against Wales, England and Scotland. A reliable replacement for Porter, his experience of 129 games in the scrum and it’s imprinted in his DNA how to finish games. Rating: 7

Finlay Bealham: Starting tighthead prop against Italy and came on against France, England and Scotland. Another of the players in a specialised role and he did as instructed, a pair of safe hands in the scrum coming in for Furlong. Rating: 6

James Ryan: Started just one game against Italy and came on twice against France and Wales then suffered a bicep injury at training. Not that visible in this year’s championship. Plenty of unglamorous work and dominant tackles. Rating: 6

Ryan Baird: Played in all five of the matches and started against Italy for a 65-minute run. One of Ireland’s most athletic players around the park and made an impact when he was introduced from the bench in four games. Rating: 7

Jack Conan: Started against Italy and played for 80 minutes and came off the bench four times. Brings bulk and brains to the conflict and generally fulfilled his role which is to make an impact wherever played in the backrow. Rating: 7

Garry Ringrose: Played just 23 minutes against Scotland from the bench. Missed the first three games of the Six Nations having injured his shoulder in Leinster’s clash with Leicester. A frustrating championship for the talented outside centre. Rating: 6

Conor Murray: Fell into Andy Farrell’s preferred scrumhalf pick to finish out games and came on against France, Wales, England and Scotland. Dependable with a physical presence and kicking game. Did what was asked. Rating: 6

Ciaran Frawley: Started against Wales at fullback and came on against France and England. Seen as a utility player by Farrell. Had little to do in the first half against Wales but stood in at outhalf to help Jack Crowley out. Ran a lovely line to grab Ireland’s third try. Rating: 7

Craig Casey: Involved in just the Italian game where he played 72 minutes. Always busy and sharp in his passing with a couple of snipes. Kicked a few rather than running the ball but kept the Irish tempo high in the shut-out win. Rating: 6

Stuart McCluskey: Played a full game against Italy partnering Robbie Henshaw and 14 minutes against Wales. Strong physical presence with some trademark offloads and threw a few long passes to put his team-mates away. Rating: 7

Jeremey Loughman: Came on for a 25-minute run against Italy at loosehead prop. Won a couple of scrum penalties with the other replacement frontrow against a team going backwards. Didn’t really get an opportunity for a prolonged run. Rating: 6

Tom O’Toole: Another player with limited time and like Loughman got a 25-minute run against Italy in a one-sided game. Together with Loughman and Kelleher they won a few scrum penalties and held Italy to zero. Rating: 6

Iain Henderson: Figured off the bench against Italy and England for a total of 39 minutes. The Italy game was going only one way but he made a difference to the lineout, which was not going well in Twickenham. Abrasive in the loose too. Rating: 6

Harry Byrne: Featured for a total of 33 minutes against Italy and Scotland but was sin-binned in the Scottish game for a high tackle after coming on as outhalf. Like Ringrose probably a frustrating few months game time-wise. Rating: 6

Oli Jager: What a moment for the prop who came on for 26 minutes against Wales as a replacement for Furlong for his first cap. What is asked of the finishers is that they play to instruction and see out the match. Rating: 6

Coach Andy Farrell: Took a risk against England with a 6-2 bench split that didn’t come off. But he was able to get a team that looked mentally tired at the end of the championship to do enough and deservedly win the championship. Rating: 9

Read More