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Which Ireland Players Would Be In Contention For A World XV?

Which Ireland Players Would Be In Contention For A World XV?
Conor O'Leary
By Conor O'Leary
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mur sexton

Gerry Thornley's claim that Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton are the world's best 9 and 10 has got us debating - how many of the Irish squad could make legitimate claims to belonging in a World XV.

We're not saying that all or any of these players should be in the World XV, more that they could/should be in the conversation.

So, instead of listing out yet another XV; presenting the Ireland players with the best chance of making an ultimate World team.

Strongest Claims

Cian Healy
ireland world xv

Of all the current players for Ireland, Cian Healy has the biggest chance to be included in a World XV. He is by a distance the best prop in open field, and is more than capable as a scrummager.

His competition for the spot wouldn't be as strong as some of the other Irish players, with only South Africa's Tendai Mtawarira aka "The Beast" as real competition.

Strong Claim

Johnny Sexton
ireland world xv

Sexton's claims for World domination are growing. Long since crowned as the Northern Hemisphere's premier no 10, his competition, like Seanny Maloney says, is from the factory of first five-eighths from New Zealand.

He's already demonstrated that he's better than both South African upstarts in Handre Pollard and Johan Goosen; but the likes of Beauden Barrett and Aaron Cruden also deserve mention with Sexton as the top three in the world.


Dan Carter, at aged 33, hasn't shown any form in the last two years, and would have to do so to be in the mix. Who is the better of Sexton, Barrett and Cruden? We won't make a definitive decision, but Sexton is firmly in the conversation.

In The 23

Conor Murray
ireland world xv

It speaks volumes for what Conor Murray has been able to do that Gerry Thornley labelled him as the world's best scrumhalf and no one laughed at the notion.

If a poll of the best scrumhalves in the world was conducted, Murray would definitely feature heavily, but I'd wager that he'd come second to All Black's Aaron Smith.

Sean O'Brien
ireland world xv

What can you say about Sean O'Brien that hasn't been said already? O'Brien isn't as close to a World XV as Healy, Murray or Sexton; but will be mentioned by some that are mesmorised by his carrying ability and his breakdown work.

Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw, Sam Warburton and Thierry Dusautoir are possibly ahead of him, but no one plays six, seven and eight better than O'Brien. Backrow will always be the hardest to call, given that they are usually the best players on any team in the world.

Coming Down

Paul O'Connell
ireland world xv

At 35 years old and 99 Irish caps to his name, it's impressive that O'Connell is still in the upper echelons of the world game. He was definitely a feature of World XVs several years ago, O'Connell can still claim to be in the conversation. Just.


Younger players like Brodie Retallick and Eben Etzebeth are close to, if not surpassing the great man at his current powers, but they'll never beat O'Connell's overall career.

Close, but not quite: Tommy Bowe, Peter O'Mahony, Jamie Heaslip

See Also: Is Johnny Sexton The World's Greatest Out-Half?
See Also: Gerry Thornley Has Made A Big Claim About Conor Murray And Johnny Sexton
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