As It Stands: Selecting a Ireland XV to face England in Six Nations

As It Stands: Selecting a Ireland XV to face England in Six Nations

Front Row - 1) Cian Healy, 2) Rory Best, 3) Tadhg Furlong


The same combination started in 3 of the 5 games during Ireland's 2018 Six Nations Grand Slam success. Ireland's front row won 36/37 scrums during last year's tournament and that solid foundation at set piece laid the platform for their historic triumph. Healy is back to his devastating best in the loose, Best provides calmness in the captaincy role and Furlong has quickly become one of the finest tight heads to grace the professional era.

Second Row - 4) Devin Toner, 5) James Ryan

With the absence of Iain Henderson through a thumb injury, the Leinster second-row pairing are in line to start the Six Nations opener in Dublin. Toner gives Ireland a lineout presence like few others in the game and Ryan compliments his partner in the loose with his ball carrying ability and impressive work rate. 

Back Row - 6) Peter O' Mahony, 7) Josh van der Flier, 8) CJ Stander

After his MOTM performance against the All Blacks in November, O' Mahony showed the world once again that he is one of the best blindside flankers in the game at present. The battle for the 7 shirt is one of the most hotly contested positional dilemmas in recent times. Dan Leavy, Josh van der Flier, Jordi Murphy and Sean O' Brien are all in the running but we feel Schmidt may rely on the consistency of Josh van der Flier after his incredible form in recent months. The ever present CJ Stander completes the trio.

Half Backs - 9) Conor Murray, 10) Johnny Sexton

The Munster scrum half missed the opening three months of the season through neck trouble but has hit the ground running on return, making up for lost time with a series of commanding displays for his province. The arrival of Joey Carbery at Munster has been a roaring success so far and his understanding with Murray has come on leaps and bounds which is a real positive for club and country. However, the 2018 World Player of the Year is irreplaceable in the green shirt and will resume his partnership with Murray against England.

Centres - 12) Bundee Aki, 13) Garry Ringrose

The chosen duo have started in recent wins over Scotland, England away at Twickenham, Italy and New Zealand. The Connacht man was an ever present in Ireland's Grand Slam success starting all five games scoring twice. The understanding between the two centres was almost telepathic against the All Blacks and with Robbie Henshaw sidelined since the end of October with hamstring trouble it's tough to see him slot straight back into the Ireland team without a run of games coming into the Six Nations. 

Back Three - 11) Jacob Stockdale, 14) Keith Earls, 15) Rob Kearney

Joe Schmidt's first choice back three are all set in stone to start bar injury. Stockdale has continued his incredible form into this season already scoring 6 tries through 5 pool games in the Champions Cup. Earls guarantees you a game breaking threat and physicality in defence while Rob Kearney covers the back field with intelligence and provides an aerial threat.

Bench:

16. Sean Cronin

17. Jack McGrath

18. Andrew Porter

19. Tadhg Beirne

20. Jordi Murphy

21. Kieran Marmion

22. Joey Carbery

23. Jordan Larmour

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