Conor Murray and Tadhg Furlong make Rugby Team of the Decade
Two Irish players make the cut in Rugby Team of the Decade.
As 2019 rolls the dice on its' final couple of days, 'Team of the Decade' compilations are coming thick and fast. SportsJOE has joined the throng and generated some debate with our Ireland, Leinster and Munster 'Best XV' selections.
Over at the BBC, two such teams were announced this week. Interestingly, given Ireland's three Six Nations wins, victories over all the southern hemisphere giants and heavy involvement in two decent Lions tours, not a single Irish player features in either.
Wales Online took a shot at 'Team of the Decade' too, with Andy Howells selecting an XV rammed with All Blacks. Considering New Zealand dominated the world rankings, won two World Cups and were blessed with absolute gems, there are no major quibbles at many of their selections. There were two outliers, however, with Gethin Jenkins (Wales) and Julien Bonnaire (France) getting the loosehead and blindside shouts.
Rugby World went for Fiji's Nemani Nadolo on their right wing, with Keven Mealamu (NZ), and the Aussie pair of David Pocock and Michael Hooper the other big shouts.
Looking at all of the teams, however, and our green-tinted glasses were drawn to a damned good XV selected by Planet Rugby. They picked a top three for each position before awarding the gold medal, and a place in their team, to 15 lucky players. Two are from Ireland.
There are mentions for Paul O'Connell, Johnny Sexton and Brian O'Driscoll for their respective positions but the two Irish players in their final XV were Tadhg Furlong (tighthead) and Conor Murray (scrumhalf). On Furlong, who beat Owen Franks and Kyle Sinckler to the No.3 jersey, they write:
'Our rumbustious winner is Wexford’s favourite farmer, the massive Tadhg Furlong, a man noted for wit and humour and someone that’ll go toe to toe with the best looseheads in the history of the game and already is unbeaten in two Lions Test series'
With 'defence, kicking and cover tackling as essential as passing' and his Lions performances allied to being world-class for most of this decade, Conor Murray gets the No.9 shirt, ahead of Will Genia and Aaron Smith.
Planet Rugby's Best XV of the Decade
15. Israel Folau (Australia)
14. Ben Smith (New Zealand)
13. Jonathan Davies (Wales)
12. Ma'a Nonu (New Zealand)
11. Bryan Habana (South Africa)
10. Dan Carter (New Zealand)
9. Conor Murray (Ireland)
1. Tendai Mtawarira (South Africa)
2. Schalk Brits (South Africa)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
5. Brodie Retallick (New Zealand)
6. Jerome Kaino (New Zealand)
7. Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
8. Sergio Parisse (Italy)
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Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble look back on all the festive inter-pro action and discuss Ireland's first squad gathering under Andy Farrell.