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25th Jun 2018

The players that have played the most minutes for Ireland this season

Jack O'Toole

It’s been a very long season for the Irish Rugby team.

There was the clean sweep of the November internationals, the Six Nations and subsequent Grand Slam titles and to cap it all off a summer series win in Australia.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt had named a 36-man squad for the Six Nations and 32-man squad for the three Test series of Australia.

Naturally, some players have played more than others this season with CJ Stander leading all Irish players in minutes played with 778 minutes in 11 Test matches.

The Munster number eight moved to blindside flanker for last weekend’s series decider in Sydney but he played the full 80 minutes in nine of his 11 matches this season.

Stander was a constant in the backrow and played 142 more minutes than stand-in captain Peter O’Mahony and 381 more minutes than breakout flanker Dan Leavy.

Full-back Rob Kearney played the second most minutes in the Irish squad with 767 minutes played in 10 matches while scrum-half Conor Murray finished in third position with 747 minutes played in 10 matches.

Minutes played

1. CJ Stander – 778 minutes in 11 matches.

2. Rob Kearney – 767 minutes in 10 matches.

3. Conor Murray – 747 minutes in 10 matches.

4. Jacob Stockdale – 705 minutes in nine matches.

5. Bundee Aki – 696 minutes in nine matches.

6. Johnny Sexton – 673 minutes in 10 matches.

7. Peter O’Mahony – 635 minutes in 10 matches.

8. James Ryan – 594 minutes in nine matches.

9. Devin Toner – 565 minutes in 10 matches.

10. Keith Earls – 563 minutes in eight matches.

11. Tadhg Furlong – 533 minutes in 10 matches.

12. Cian Healy – 479 minutes in 11 matches.

13. Rory Best – 477 minutes in seven matches.

14. Robbie Henshaw – 460 minutes in seven matches.

15. Iain Henderson – 440 minutes in seven matches.

Schmidt said that Ireland’s goal following the series win is to now try and repeat the amount of success they’ve enjoyed in the lasy year and to continue to try and improve as a squad.

“I’m kind of intimidated by the season because how do you repeat that?” Schmidt said. “It’s tough to go again and with that expectation. We have that expectation of ourselves that we’re going to try to keep working and try to keep improving.

“We don’t want to be one hit wonders, but while we have earned where we are tonight, in the scale of things, we want to keep growing.

“It is so fickle, so competitive and I know how quickly it can turn.

“This time two years ago, England won a Grand Slam and they went one better than us, they won 3-0 here against Australia.

“Until Saturday’s win, they had lost their previous five Test matches and throw in the Barbarians result there, too. They have had to keep their heads above water. It’s not easy. There are so many good teams out there.”

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