Ireland's first names on the team-sheet, as Top 5 players debated 3 weeks ago

Ireland's first names on the team-sheet, as Top 5 players debated

"It was like his soul had left his body and he was playing as two men, on the pitch."

In theory, it was a simple task (and ask) - name the first five Ireland players you would have on your team-sheet.

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In practice, the House of Rugby crew got an insight into how tough Andy Farrell and his coaches must have it when selecting sides for big Test matches. 10 players ended up getting mentioned and the fact that Jamison Gibson-Park, James Ryan, Peter O'Mahony and Andrew Porter were not, goes to show how many top-level players this nation currently possesses.

On House of Rugby [from 29:40 below], Greg O'Shea, Lindsay Peat and Jason Hennessy selected their five 'must start' Ireland players, and all agreed on three names.

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Ireland players Ireland players, from left, James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Jack Conan, Jonathan Sexton, Joey Carbery, Gavin Coombes and Peter O’Mahony celebrate after the Steinlager Series against New Zealand. (Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile)

'Forwards are more important'

In October, ahead of the Bank of Ireland Nations Series, IRFU performance director David Nucifora spoke of Andy Farrell and his coaches having a 'Top 50' of Ireland players drawn up.

The Emerging Ireland mini-tour to South Africa 'rearranged the pecking order' but the recent Ireland 'A' loss to an All Blacks XV may have done so again. The broaden his scope, Farrell has brought in the likes of Tom Stewart, Michael Milne, Nathan Doak and Stewart Moore, so they can experience national team camp before any full call-ups, down the line.

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While debating that 'Top 50' would have been a seven-hour show, we tasked the House of Rugby crew with giving us their top five Ireland players that would go straight onto their team-sheet for a big game. The answers are, as follows:

Jason Hennessy's Top 5 Ireland Players

"I'd put Tadhg Furlong ahead of Johnny Sexton. I think he's the best tighthead the game has ever seen, and he's phenomenal."

  1. Tadhg Furlong
  2. Johnny Sexton
  3. Josh van der Flier
  4. Robbie Henshaw
  5. Hugo Keenan
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Lindsay Peat's Top 5 Ireland Players

"I'll have to put Johnny in there because we don't function without him which, in a way, is the sad part."

  1. Tadhg Furlong
  2. Josh van der Flier
  3. Garry Ringrose
  4. Johnny Sexton
  5. Caelan Doris

Ireland players

Greg O'Shea's Top 5 Ireland Players

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"Even though I'm a back, I think forwards are more important on the pitch. They get that ball for you... I'd put in Tadhg Beirne for one of the centres. He's one of the best forwards in the world."

  1. Tadhg Furlong
  2. Dan Sheehan
  3. Josh van der Flier
  4. Johnny Sexton
  5. Tadhg Beirne

Greg O'Shea also named Hugo Keenan as a player that he'd be getting up and into his starting XV, immediately after that top five.

So, overall, nine names mentioned and a mention for Rónan Kelleher when he gets back to full fitness, but three constants - Sexton, Furlong and van der Flier.

While not everyone will have the same 'Top 5', we would be surprised to see ones that did not feature that trio of names.

WATCH HOUSE OF RUGBY HERE