Big thanks to @johng and @limecat for their assistance with the template
Please note the criteria for the Listings:
1. Players may only be included once on the list
2. The list is a National Depth Chart related to the requirements of the National Team. However, I have listed players only in positions in which they have played.
3. Players are listed at the highest level possible in a suitable position.
3. Listing is based on performances since 1st October 2016. i.e. includes four rounds of EPCR and Autumn Internationals and other Pro12, Premiership & Top 14.
4. The overall selection is personal choice based on games attended or viewed i.e. does not including Training Sessions.
Once again this listing only goes down to four levels, and only includes players considered capable at present of playing international rugby.
Ireland XV Depth Chart - 31st Dec 2016
[b]First XV2nd XV 3rd XV 4th XV [/b]
15. R. Kearney T O'Halloran A. Conway C Kelleher
14. A Trimble D Sweetnam N Adelolokun A. Byrne
13. G Ringrose J Payne R. O'Loughlin L Marshall
12. R Henshaw R Scannell S McCloskey N Reid
11. S Zebo K Earls M Healy R. O'Mahony
10. J Sexton J Carbery P Jackson I Madigan
9. C Murray K Marmion L McGrath J Cooney
8. J Heaslip J Conan J O'Donoghue J Muldoon
7. S O'Brien J V der Flyer T O'Donnell Jordi Murphy
6. CJ Stander P O'Mahony D Leavy S. O'Brien II
5. D Toner U Dillane B Holland R. Molony
4. Donn Ryan I Henderson Q Roux I Nagle
3. T Furlong F Bealham M Moore J Ryan
2. R Best S Cronin N Scannel J Treacy
1. J McGrath C Healy D Buckley D Kilcoyne
Commentary on Selections
It may seem pretty straightforward, but there's lots of debate about many positions:
Essentially, there are three real contenders for this positioon, Kearney, Zebo and Payne. However, IMO, Zebo is our best left winger by a distance and playing with Kearney provides him with a level of positional game management which is essENtial for Ireland. Payne may have more attacking flair than Kearney but does not provide the degree of security in fielding ability which is essential at the 6N.
Andrew Trimble repels all invaders with his form in an Irish jersey in which he seems to demonstrate the full range of his ability and temperament.
Gary Ringrose shades Jaryd Payne by a whisker, but no argument that it is still a close call. Improving game by game and a little edge in his attacking play.
One of four positions in which there are few arguments, but the progress of Rory Scannell is exciting and he is be one of the finds of the 2016 year.
Despite some howls from down south, IMO Zebo is a real threat on the left wing and a probable Lion in this position. Earls needs a run of games without injury.
Sexton still prevails, despite his injury woes, but the depth of Carbery and Jackson is very encouraging. Jackson has not progressed, or even maintained his form from SA, but Carbery offers attacking threats every time he is in possession. A very strong position at present.
The second position where there is little or no debate because of the imperious form of Conor Murray. Ireland's most important player IMO.
Heaslip has had a wonderful second half of the year and remains in pole position as the arch competitor, internationally, in this shirt.
Few would have believed a year ago that there would be any debate about whether a fit Sean O'Brien should keep the No 7 shirt. But Josh Van der Flier has made an enormous impact when playing and there is a case to be made that Schmidt will select between them on a game by game basis, depending on who we're playing
CJ is now nationally identified by just his initials and CJ - MOTM has almost become the motif of Thomond Park. Dominant in the role and has considerably reduced the argument for the use of Iain Henderson in this position.
The third position in the team where there is almost no argument about Toner's tenancy on the jersey. Dev has grown at international level to a point where every opposition must plan for his presence, inside and outside the lineout.
Some debate about the selection here with some feeling that Henderson offers more potential. But Donnchadh Ryan's contributions in Red and Green have been back to the levels which saw him selected in the 6N team of the Championship eight years ago. A tough, hard and skillful player, back to his best in a green jersey and well capable of playing 80 minutes when needed.
Mike Ross's injury certainly created an opportunity which has been grabbed with both hands by Tadgh Furlong. Few who watched him closely in the JWC in South Africa beside Henderson and Hanrahan, doubted that he would graduate eventually to a full green jersey. Not many considered he would do it this quickly or with such an immediate impact. A full 6N tournament, without injury, will make him a strong Lions contender. Bealham is progressing well and Marty Moore may well continue his development to ensure Ireland remain strong in this position.
Best has matured into an important Captain who is well ahead of his contenders at scrum time and less lightly to get the yips with his throwing. But it his work at the breakdown which has been most evident over the past 12 months and only injury could prevent him from touring to NZ.
IMO, the fourth position in which there will be minimal argument about this selection. McGrath has demonstrated his skill and durability in every game he has played and has not yet reached his prime. European and 6N games ahead will show his improved ball carrying is rapidly catching up to his scrum expertise. Cian Healy a wonderful impact LHP to have on the bench.
Unavailable and Injured
MIke Ross was the main omission due to injury although neither McFadden or Dave Kearney were considered for the same reason. Stuart Olding had minimal game time during the three months and may have commanded a posigtion with more exposure. Tommy Bowe was considered but his performances left him out of the top four selections on the right wing.