Should This Be The Ireland Starting XV For The Six Nations?

Luke Fitzgerald, Sean O'Brien and Ian Madigan 20/5/2015

We take a look at the most in form Ireland stars so far this season and select their most likely starting XV for the 2016 Six Nations;

15.Simon Zebo

With Dave Kearney not having shone for some time in an Ireland shirt, it is perhaps time for Schmidt to take a look at another option, and Zebo definitely offers something a bit different.

14.Luke Fitzgerald

Probably Ireland’s top performer in their World Cup quarter final defeat, Fitzgerald can spark something seemingly out of nothing with his footwork out on the wing.

13.Robbie Henshaw

Henshaw can step into his more natural role at outside centre where he can begin to form the foundations of a future partnership with Stuart McCloskey in the midfield.

12.Stuart McCloskey

After a series of impressive performances so far this season, McCloskey should be given the nod to see what he can do alongside Henshaw as they look like a partnership for the future.

11.Keith Earls

Earls has shown more enough on the international stage to prove he has what it takes, and also has the added bonus of being able to play outside centre given the inexperienced midfield pairing.

10.Jonathan Sexton

Sexton may be someway off his best at the moment, but there is a genuine lack of serious competition for the 10 shirt ensuring he retains control of it for now.

9.Conor Murray

Murray is without doubt now one of Ireland’s most important players, especially given the dearth of talent behind him in the pecking order for the nine shirt.

8.Jamie Heaslip

Heaslip could find himself under pressure from CJ Stander for the number 8 shirt, but his international experience sees him keep hold of it for the time being at least.

7.Chris Henry

The introduction of Henry means Ireland can play a more traditional blindside whilst giving O’Brien more freedom to focus on what he does best.

6.Sean O’Brien

Playing Henry at seven means O’Brien can spend more time focussing on his ball carrying duties where we all know how deadly the Tullow Tank can be.

5.Donnacha Ryan

With Iain Henderson out injured and Paul O’Connell having retired, Ireland are looking a little thin on resources in the second row, so Ryan’s experience sees him take a place in the starting XV.

4.Devin Toner

Much like with Ryan, Toner offers a solid experienced option in the second row, and should still be around for the World Cup in 2019.

3.Mike Ross

Mike Ross remains a solid dependable option in the front row and should help ensure their set piece remains solid given the changes taking place in the second row.

2.Rory Best

One of Ireland’s stand out performers over the last few years, Best looks like he could take over as captain whilst remaining a key player both at the set piece and in the loose.

1.Jack McGrath

McGrath has now definitely leapfrogged Healy in the pecking order having consistently proven himself at the top level for both club and country.

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