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The Balls Readers Picked Ireland's Strongest XV: Do You Agree?

The Balls Readers Picked Ireland's Strongest XV: Do You Agree?
Conor O'Leary
By Conor O'Leary
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During the week we asked the balls readers to take their chance to prove how good a Joe Schmidt they would be by selecting their own Irish rugby starting XV. We wanted to know the strongest team that Ireland have for when we take on Uruguay in the World Cup Final on the 31st of October.

Here is the XV that you want to take on Luis Suarez and the boys. Do you agree with yourselves?

balls readers xv

15. Rob Kearney 92%

Fairly standard selection with no surprises. Rob Kearney is one of those fixtures in the Irish team that it's actually hard to know who is next in line. Today's fullback Simon Zebo takes the spot with 4%, just ahead of his Munster back three mates Keith Earls and Felix Jones.

14. Tommy Bowe 90%

None of you want Tommy to schlow down at all. A comprehensive victory with Andrew Trimble's 6% coming in second, with Earls scooping up the rest. Trimble won't be too upset though.

13. Jared Payne 39%

The first actual non landslide comes in Brian O'Driscoll's old position. Jared Payne is the man that Joe has entrusted into the jersey, and after a Six Nations where Payne got better with every game - he'll have a chance to show people what he can do on Saturday.

There was a lot of love for Robbie Henshaw (31%) to play where he does for Connacht, where he thrives in space; whilst Keith Earls' (20%) showing last week prompted Munster fans to select the Limerick flier. (Joke). There was also some love for Luke Fitzgerald at 9%.

12. Robbie Henshaw 71%

Connacht's son Robbie Henshaw does get into the team after just losing out at 13 to Jared Payne. Some people must have swapped Henshaw and Payne, as the Kiwi born player was second with 10%. There was a thought to convert Madigan (7%) or Sexton (1%) from outhalf.

Veteran Gordon D'Arcy only had 8%.

11. Andrew Trimble 38%

In one of the closest competitions, Andrew Trimble just about beats the competition. There's a lot of love for Trimble after the 2014 Six Nations still out there. Trimble just about shades Zebo at 31%, whilst Luke Fitzgerald also gets some votes with 21.


Keith Earls did manage to get 8%, bringing his total percentage over four positions to 35.

10. Johnny Sexton 98%

The second most comprehensive victory in this poll. There's really nothing else to be said. Both Jackson and Madigan managed a percent, with no love for Cian Healy or Sean O'Brien.

9. Conor Murray 95%

95% of us know that Conor Murray is Ireland's best scrumhalf. He's rated along with Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara as one of the best in the world.


Why he didn't get the full 100%? Perhaps it's because 2% of people decided they wanted Joe Schmidt as their starting scrumhalf. He would be Irish qualified after living here for so long, and is uncapped.

1. Cian Healy 90%

The vast majority of you really want Healy to recover from his injury problems. Just 9% wanted Six Nations starter and clear deputy Jack McGrath in though.

2. Rory Best 79%

Given the overwhelming majority that most of the other starters received so far, it's perhaps surprisingly that Ulster captain and member of the leadership group Rory Best *only* got 79% of the vote.


There are clearly some people who think that Sean Cronin's ball carrying is worth a vote.

3. Mike Ross 86%

It's perhaps surprisingly that only the second Irish tighthead in history (joke), only gets 86% of the vote. I mean, who else could you have voted for. Schmidt clearly loves the Cork prop - he's the only player that has started every single international test for Schmidt.

John Hayes hasn't been forgotten by some, with the four years retired prop garnering 3% of the vote.

4. Devin Toner 52%

Toner wins just over half of the vote here to be O'Connell's partner, with a lot of love for Iain Henderson (27%). There were some votes for back row Peter O'Mahony (5%) who has played on the wing for Shannon you know.

5. Paul O'Connell 100%

balls readers xv

I think it's quite apt that the poll results show that there are two 100% percent results for Paul O'Connell.

6. Peter O'Mahony 87%

Aside from being selected at second row, the Munster captain and future Ireland captain is selected in the blindside flanker position with no fuss.

Sean O'Brien is the second choice, but he's likely not to mind because...

7. Sean O'Brien 93%

He's the top draw at openside with another overwhelming victory. You have to fit O'Brien in somewhere. O'Brien received 105% of votes in total (8+93+4) implying that some geniuses selected him more than once. If only there were a team of Sean O'Briens.

Chris Henry beat Jordi Murphy to be second choice.

8. Jamie Heaslip 91%

Bionic man Jamie Heaslip may get a lot of flak, but he's got the backing of balls readers with a big margin.

Much like at fullback, no one knows who is the actual back up to Heaslip, with opinions split between Jordi Murphy and Sean O'Brien

See Also: Ireland Team To Play Scotland

Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

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