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REVEALED: Alan Quinlan's official best Irish rugby XV

Former Munster and Ireland star Alan Quinlan has put his neck on the line with his best-ever Iris...



REVEALED: Alan Quinlan's offic...
Rugby

REVEALED: Alan Quinlan's official best Irish rugby XV

Former Munster and Ireland star Alan Quinlan has put his neck on the line with his best-ever Irish rugby XV of the professional era.

This comes after our own Neil Treacy provided us with his team yesterday, with Seán O'Brien a notable absentee and some decisions that have started a serious conversation.

Here are Quinny's picks (and bench):

Loosehead prop - Cian Healy:

"I think he's probably been the most consistent and best player in that position, real power and his overall contribution throughout a game.

"You're splitting hairs with so many people here, but he's an obvious selection for his longevity. Bar a few injuries he'd have a lot more caps, his impact over the last few years has been phenomenal."

Hooker - Keith Wood:

"It's probably a difficult one here. I don't think Rory Best will be happy with me! But Woody has the record number of Test tries for a hooker, and I just think... I'm basing this off if all these players were fit and available.

"Woody starts at hooker."

Tighthead prop - Tadhg Furlong:

"For any viewers who will be accusing me of provincial bias afterwards - John Hayes is one of my best mates. We're incredibly close, but I'm not picking him!

"I've changed my mind on this one because the Leinster brigade will be out attacking me. Maybe because I know Hayes so well and know he'll be fine with it, I'm dropping him for Tadhg Furlong.

"Given what I'm saying about Woody, and the impact and all-round football ability and performances in the three tests against New Zealand in 2017, I'm going for Tadhg Furlong."

8 February 2020; Ireland players, including Tadhg Furlong and Conor Murray, celebrate their side's third try during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and Wales at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Second row - Donncha O'Callaghan and Paul O'Connell:

"It's between the three of them isn't it - Donnacha [O'Callaghan], Mal [O'Kelly], and Paul [O'Connell]. I think James Ryan probably hasn't played long enough for Ireland.

"There is no debate about Paul O'Connell, he's your number five. At number four, basing it on balance... I'll go with Donncha.

"Mal played 92 times for Ireland, two Lions tours... Donncha 94 caps and two Lions tours. You could say Donncha started a couple of test matches.

"I'll put Mal on the bench, he won't be pleased with me."

Flankers - Stephen Ferris and David Wallace:

"Again, this is one of the most difficult, some of this is just gut feeling stuff! There's very little between any of the players.

"When I come into it before over-analysing it, the first three players that come into my head [for flankers and number 8] are Ferris, Heaslip, and Wallace.

"You could argue Seán O'Brien is very unlucky not to get that number seven berth, but again on longevity and the impact Wally made gives him the nod.

"Peter O'Mahony at six would be unlucky as well, Axel [Foley], CJ Stander for his impact in the last number of years. [And] someone who didn't play a huge amount whose career was hampered by injury - Denis Leamy."

6 November 2010; David Wallace, left, and Stephen Ferris, Ireland. Autumn Internationals, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Number 8 - Jamie Heaslip:

See above - the Leinster man gets the nod!

Scrumhalf - Conor Murray:

"I think [for] overall footballing ability and all-round game I think it goes to Conor Murray, but you have to mention [Peter] Stringer."

Outhalf - Ronan O'Gara:

It was a decision between ROG and Sexton...

"It depends what you exactly mean by the better out-half. I think Ronan O'Gara is the better out-half if you're looking at temperament, control, direction, all those kinds of things.

"Johnny Sexton is a better athlete, a better rugby player, someone who could play at centre or fullback.

"Because I played with ROG for so long, I played with Johnny a couple of times... Johnny is obviously an incredible player as well. There's very little between the two.

"I just can't get out of my head that I got out of so many rucks and you get up and see the ball spiralling down the field 60 or 70 yards and into touch... that was on the back of Ronan O'Gara's kicking game."

Centres - Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy:

No discussion needed here.

2 October 2010; Brian O'Driscoll, Leinster, in action against Alan Quinlan, Munster. Celtic League, Leinster v Munster, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Wingers - Keith Earls and Tommy Bowe:

"For me Tommy Bowe plays on the right wing, Shane Horgan would be unlucky!

"I'm splitting hairs with the left wing, I think Keith Earls and Denis Hickie are your out-and-out poachers, that bit of X-Factor, incredible pace and can get tries out of nowhere.

"I'm going with Keith Earls here - 30 tries in 84 caps, Denis Hickie had 29 in 62 caps so you could say Denis is more prolific but... I find it difficult to leave Keith Earls out of it."

Fullback - Rob Kearney:

Again, no arguments with this position and the Leinster man goes straight into the team.

SUBS:

Rory Best, Marcus Horan, Mike Ross, Malcolm O'Kelly, Seán O'Brien, Johnny Sexton, Denis Hickie, Shane Horgan

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Read more about

Adrian Barry Alan Quinlan Eoin Sheahan Ireland Keith Wood Munster Off The Ball Otb Am Rugby

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