Amount of Irish players guaranteed in World XV shows how good we have it
"This is our show. We're keeping him grounded!"
Back before Ireland faced off against France in the second round of this year's Six Nations championship, Brian O'Driscoll suggested five of Andy Farrell's side could stake great claims for a World XV.
The House of Rugby team went two better than the great man himself, after Ireland downed France in an all-time classic, then softened their cough on Johnny Sexton.
The question was very simple when Greg O'Shea put it to Lindsay Peat and Jason Hennessy, in the aftermath of the well deserved win over Les Bleus - What Ireland players would you include, without question, in your World XV?
"Minimum five," Peat declared before the former Ireland prop offered up the first name - Johnny Sexton. The names started getting reeled off, and it was hard to hit the brakes.
Ireland 'locks' for World XV
Greg O'Shea confidently reeled off the names of Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne and Hugo Keenan, next, as the World XV was pondered.
"Caelan Doris is definitely in there," said Jason Hennessy. "Josh van der Flier is definitely in there. Garry Ringrose is in there, on current form."
It was only at this stage, with seven slots taken up by Ireland stars, that the House of Rugby trio slowed their roll. Hennessy also suggested that Andrew Porter would be 'in the conversation' at loosehead but not a guarantee, especially when up against Ellis Genge, Cyril Baille and Steven Kitshoff.
Looking to sort of the 'locks' from the good shouts, Lindsay Peat started counting them out on one hand:
"The guarantees," she said, "are Caelan Doris, Tadhg Furlong and Garry Ringrose. Josh van der Flier, too, World Rugby Player of the Year. What are we thinking about Sexton?"
While O'Shea said he would be tempted to go with Johnny Sexton over the likes of Beauden Barrett and Romain Ntamack, Hennessy argued that he would be a contentious pick. "You've got to remember," said O'Shea, "Johnny Sexton was nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year."
So, they settled on four... until they didn't.
The latest episode had some chat revolving around Hugo Keenan and O'Shea talked his co-hosts around. "Hugo Keenan is the best fullback in the world, right now," he declared. So, Keenan was in while Tadhg Beirne misses out after the leg injury that may see him miss the remainder of this season.
HOUSE OF RUGBY'S IRISH PICKS FOR WORLD XV
- Tadhg Furlong
- Caelan Doris
- Josh van der Flier
- Garry Ringrose
- Hugo Keenan
That quintet differs in only one name from the Brian O'Driscoll suggestion. The former Ireland captain went for Dan Sheehan but Tadhg Furlong, due to injury, missed out. The Wexford native has yet to play since early December and will miss this weekend's game against Italy.
Perhaps the biggest sign of Irish rugby being in such rude health would be the players that are top-class and in good form but who did not even make the longlist during the debate - Rónan Kelleher, James Ryan, Mack Hansen and James Lowe.
WATCH THAT HOUSE OF RUGBY EPISODE HERE:
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