No arguing about Ireland's Player of the Six Nations but Tadhg Furlong pushed him close 2 years ago

No arguing about Ireland's Player of the Six Nations but Tadhg Furlong pushed him close

He came into the mix midway through the Six Nations but made an immediate impact.

Looking back on our ratings for the November Series, three Ireland players finished with average scores of 9/10 - Conor Murray, Robbie Henshaw and Jordi Murphy.

Following Ireland's Six Nations campaign, in which they came second, only one player averaged 9 and he played just 33 minutes.

Craig Gilroy tops the list but, having only made one substitute appearance, he cannot realistically claim to be Ireland's player of the tournament. That honour goes to Johnny Sexton.

The outhalf returned to Ireland's starting line-up for the 19-9 victory over France - claiming man of the match - and also excelled in the finalรฉ against England. The two men that pushed him closest were a Munster and Leinster forward.

Craig Gilroy - Average rating: 9

Finished as Six Nations joint top try-scorer after scorching in a 33-minute hat-trick against Italy. Joe Schmidt said he had 'a mixed bag' after the game and we all presumed he was joking under Gilroy didn't get a sight of the team for the final three matches. Still, likely to make the summer tour squad.

Johnny Sexton: 8

Ireland are a different, braver animal when Sexton is on deck. Was imperious and confident in the home wins over France and England, and had several good moments in the agonising loss to Wales. He still insists there's nothing he could do to avoid a yellow card but it cost Ireland 10 points. Will be the Lions No.10, if he can stay fit and healthy.

Jared Payne & Peter O'Mahony: 8

If we had started the championship with these two in the starting XV, we could have won the whole lot. O'Mahony went from being on the outside looking in to starting against England and terrorising them in a man of the match performance. Payne ranks highly here as he did well at fullback in his only game of the championship.

Tadhg Furlong & Donnacha Ryan: 7.5

Our most consistent forwards and men that stood up to be counted when the going got tough. Furlong monstered the Italian back in his best outing while Ryan was immense in the final two games of the championship.

Rob Kearney, Garry Ringrose, Simon Zebo, Conor Murray, Kieran Marmion, Andrew Conway: 7

Conway aside, who did well off the bench against England, each of these men had excellent outings during the championship but were not consistent enough and will look back upon individual errors at key times.

Jack McGrath, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip: 7

McGrath and Heaslip were steady but not spectacular while O'Brien was either piping hot or merely tepid. Henderson bounced back well in the final two games of the championship while Stander carried his arse off with a couple of highlight reel moments thrown in.

Keith Earls & Robbie Henshaw: 6.5

Earls' best game was away to Italy while Henshaw saved his best for last, against England.

Rory Best, Devin Toner, Cian Healy, John Ryan, Luke McGrath, James Tracy: 6

Best and Toner will both agree that their form dipped during the championship before they played important roles in the win over England. McGrath was assured and confident on his six Nations debut while Ryan snatched handfuls of minutes after Furlong had emptied the tank.

Paddy Jackson: 5.5

Looked good in the second half against Scotland and kicked brilliantly against Italy. Saw it out against France but was poor in the Wales defeat.

Andrew Trimble, Dan Leavy, Josh van der Flier, Ian Keatley, Ultan Dillane: 5

Supporting roles. Dillane will still regret his fumble off a lineout maul against Scotland.

Tommy Bowe: 4

A championship to forget for a great player. Shabby against Scotland and injured after 30 seconds against Wales.