No arguing with Ireland's player of the Six Nations but Conor Murray pushed him close
All told, Ireland used 30 players over the course of their successful 2018 Six Nations campaign. Only eight started all five games of the Grand Slam but all 30 contributed to the trophy haul.
Over the course of the championship, SportsJOE was at each of the matches and offered up player ratings for the men in green.
Looking back on those games, and looking at the tournament as a whole, we have settled on final ratings for each player. There is one man that edges the rest, in terms of vital contributions and consistency, but the likes of Conor Murray, Tadhg Furlong and Garry Ringrose pushed him close.
Here's how we rated Ireland's 2018 Grand Slam champs:
Jacob Stockdale - 9
7 tries in 5 games over the tournament and so many of them crucial. Got two first half tries to get Ireland clear against the Scots, scorched Italy, and stunned England just before half-time at Twickenham. Defence improved with each outing. Was quiet in Paris but secured that vital intercept against Wales that meant England had to beat France and score four tries while they were at it.
Conor Murray, Tadhg Furlong, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Ryan - 8.5
Conor Murray would be [and was] my vote for player of the tournament but Stockdale's overall scoring contribution sees him edge Stockdale in our final standings. The scrumhalf was at his very best all tournament and even chipped in with two important penalties. Furlong, Ringrose and Henshaw featured in a combined six games but all did superbly well. Ryan got two 9/10 and two 8/10 ratings from us. Beast.
Iain Henderson, Dan Leavy, Johnny Sexton, Keith Earls, Rob Kearney, Chris Farrell - 8
A mix of experienced heads and newcomers here. Sexton got the party started in Paris while Earls and Kearney were wily, brave and won so many aerial contests. Chris Farrell was man of the match against Wales while Dan Leavy now owns that No.7 jersey for Australia.
Bundee Aki, Rory Best, Cian Healy, CJ Stander, Andrew Porter - 7.5
Aki and Best started all five games and could always be relied up to put in a shift. Best's captaincy and diplomacy was spot on while Aki helped himself to a couple of big tries. Stander made a whopping 96 carries over the tournament and scored that excellent try against England. Healy is back with a bang while Porter was a great impact sub and did well in his longer runs against Italy and Wales.
Peter O'Mahony, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Joey Carbery - 7
O'Mahony is the only man who started all eight games who rates a 7 but, make no mistake, Ireland were indebted to his selfless breakdown work and lineout jumping. McGrath only got the one start but often saw it home for Ireland, while Jordi Murphy was a handy sub in the final two games. Carbery did well with the snatches of game-time he go.
John Ryan, Jack Conan, Kieran Marmion - 6.5
John Ryan made a potentially costly scrum error in Paris but was otherwise good. Marmion did not get too much time out on the pitch but is always reliable and filled in on the right wing again. Conan got his chance against Italy but picked up a knock before half-time.
Josh van der Flier, Jordan Larmour, Quinn Roux, Sean Cronin - 6
Cronin stepped up big time, with three minutes on the clock at Twickenham, with a great tackle on Mike Brown. Van der Flier missed out on most of the fun after being injured against france. Larmour sparkled in attack but is not yet the Test article while Roux did what was required in his two outings. Heft.
Fergus McFadden - 5.5
Was there at the death in Paris but missed his chance to impress against Wales. Still, a Grand Slam winner and will be an important player for Leinster as the season closes out.
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