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Match Profiles: Ireland Backs

Match Profiles: Ireland Backs

See below for pre-match profiles of Ireland’s backs ahead of Sunday’s Six Nations encounter with Wales.


Born: Dublin, October 2, 1975
Height: 6ft; Weight: 14st 4lbs
Ireland Caps: 69
Ireland Points: 70 (14 tries)
Ireland Debut: v Georgia, 1998

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Seventh Test against Wales – 0 points

– Is in fine form this season and retains the full-back position from
Geordan Murphy
– Will equal Kevin Maggs in fifth place in the all-time Irish caps list with his 70th cap – Was on the bench for the duration of the 2006 Six Nations, only coming for the Triple Crown game against England
– This is his 55th cap at full-back (including seven appearances as a replacement). He played nine Tests on the wing (1998-99 and 2005), and also six games as a replacement playing out of position
– Played 29 consecutive tests from the summer of 2003 to Ireland’s 2005 meeting with Australia – prior to that run, he missed tests due to a persistent groin injury
– He has scored two tries from a wing berth, and 12 touch downs from full-back
– Has scored only three of his 14 Test tries in Six Nations games – his last Test score came against Romania in November 2005


Born: Coleraine, October 20, 1984
Height: 6ft 1in; Weight: 14st 10lbs
Ireland Caps: 10
Ireland Points: 25 (5 tries)
Ireland Debut: v Australia, 2005

Second Test against Wales – 0 points

– This will be his first cap on the right wing for Ireland. He won his first two caps in the centre and the rest have been on the left wing
– He missed the last two matches in the Guinness Autumn Series due to a hamstring injury
– Got his first Ireland call-up for the 2005 autumn Tests
– This is his third season with Ulster, he is a former Ireland Schools and Under-21 centre
– A Theology student, he scored on his Six Nations debut last season, as a replacement against France
– Was voted Ulster Rugby Player of the Year last season and won the Irish Rugby Union Players’ Association’s Newcomer of the Year award in 2006


Born: Dublin, January 21, 1979
Height: 5ft 11in; Weight: 14st 7lbs
Ireland Caps: 70
Ireland Points: 152 (28 tries and 4 drop goals)
Ireland Debut: v Australia, 1999

Ninth Test against Wales – 15 points (3 tries; 2001 and 2004 (2))

– This is his 34th Test match as captain, and he has led Ireland to 24 wins in 33 Tests
– Has score an Irish record of 28 tries in his international career. He is one ahead of his Leinster team-mate and friend Denis Hickie, but only scored one try in 2006 (against New Zealand)
– Is now second on the Ireland captaincy list behind leader Keith Wood (36)
– He has scored 16 tries in Six Nations tournaments, beating the Irish record of 14, set by George Stephenson, with his try against England in 2005
– Has scored Test hat-tricks against France (2000) and Scotland (2002)
– He played in all three Lions Tests in Australia in 2001, but the 2005 tour to New Zealand saw him dislocate a shoulder just minutes into the first Test
– The Leinster captain, voted Irish Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002, has skippered his country to two Triple Crowns in the past three seasons. He scooped the RBS 6 Nations Player of the tournament award last season


Born: Wexford, February 10, 1980
Height: 5ft 10in; Weight: 14st 8lbs
Ireland Caps: 26
Ireland Points: 15 points (3 tries)
Ireland Debut: v Romania, 1999

Fourth Test against Wales – 0 points

– Has scored three Test tries – two against Scotland in 2004, and one against France last year
– Played just 25 minutes of international rugby in the 2004/05 season due to hamstring problems. He returned for all three autumn Tests in 2005 and this is his 15th successive game for Ireland
– Was voted the 2004 Six Nations Player of the tournament and also won the 2004 IRUPA Players’ Player of the Year gong. He was a Lions tourist in 2005
– He won his first Irish cap as a teenager at the 1999 World Cup as a late call-up for the injured Girvan Dempsey. His second cap followed against Fiji, three years later
– Made his Leinster debut in 1998, Ireland ‘A’ debut in 1999 and his senior bow against Romania in that year’s World Cup. He was not in the 2003 World Cup squad


Born: Dublin, February 13, 1976
Height: 6ft 2in; Weight: 14st 9lbs
Ireland Caps: 53
Ireland Points: 135 points (27 tries)
Ireland Debut: v Wales, 1997

Eighth Test against Wales – 15 points (3 tries; 1997, 2001 and 2002)

– Won his 50th cap against France in 2005, then played in the defeat to Wales which saw the Dragons claim the Grand Slam. That was his last Test until last November’s clash with Australia in which he celebrated his recall up a try
– He added another, a week later, against the Pacific Islanders to close the gap on Irish record try scorer, Brian O’Driscoll, to a single try
– He replaced the injured Andrew Trimble against Australia and had missed the previous 14 internationals
– His record haul of four tries against Italy in a World Cup warm-up game in August 2003 took him to the top of Ireland’s try-scoring charts, passing O’Driscoll who reclaimed the honour when Hickie was out injured in 2004
– Has had major injury problems including a broken jaw in 1998 – he missed 18 months of international action – and further injury in 2001. He had returned for the 2004 autumn tests after missing eight games due to the ruptured Achilles he sustained against Australia at the 2003 World Cup
– He scored a try on his debut against Wales, aged 20. Was a Lions tourist in 2005


Born: San Diego, USA, March 7, 1977
Height: 5ft 11in; Weight: 13st 6lbs
Ireland Caps: 66
Ireland Points: 660 (9 tries, 105 conversions, 126 penalty goals and 9 drop goals)
Ireland Debut: v Scotland, 2000

Eighth Test against Wales – 59 points (2 tries, 8 conversions, 10 penalty goals and 1 drop goal)

– He was the top points scorer in both the 2005 and 2006 Six Nations, and has totalled 313 points in previous tournaments
– He regained top place in the Ireland all-time points-scoring list from David Humphreys (560 points) against France in 2006
– One of the players who made their Test debuts against Scotland. He is ninth on the Irish caps list, but five players in the current squad (Malcolm O’Kelly, Peter Stringer, Brian O’Driscoll, Girvan Dempsey and John Hayes) have more caps
– He was on the 2005 Lions tour to New Zealand – was a replacement in the third Test. Also a Lions tourist in Australia in 2001
– Has played in three Heineken Cup finals with Munster, scored 13 points in the 2006 final win over Biarritz
– Is the Heineken Cup’s record points scorer with 836 points


Born: Cork, December 13, 1977
Height: 5ft 7in; Weight: 11st 4lbs
Ireland Caps:72
Ireland Points: 30 (6 tries)
Ireland Debut: v Scotland, 2000

Seventh Test against Wales – 0 points

– Will win his 73rd cap in Cardiff, placing him second on Ireland’s all-time caps list behind Malcolm O’Kelly and one cap ahead of the retired David Humphreys
– One of the players who made their Test debuts against Scotland in 2000, immediately after a 50-18 defeat for Warren Gatland’s Irish side at Twickenham
– Has won 72 caps in Ireland’s last 77 Test matches (he was rested for the other games against the USA (2000), Fiji (2002), then Tonga, Samoa and Italy (all in 2003)
– Has made 46 Test starts alongside his old school-mate Ronan O’Gara, and is Ireland’s most-capped scrum half
– Has been to three Heineken Cup finals with Munster – defeats in 2000 and 2002 and famously scored a try in last year’s victory over Biarritz


Born: Tokoroa, New Zealand, April 9, 1980
Height: 5ft 10in; Weight: 12st 6lbs
Ireland Caps: 5
Ireland Points: 0
Ireland Debut: v New Zealand, 2006

First Test against Wales, if he plays

– He played in the final two Tests of the 2006 summer tour to New Zealand and Australia, making his debut against New Zealand, the country of his birth. Made his first and only start to date in last November’s Dublin win over Australia
– Impressed as a replacement last time out against the Pacific Islanders, popping up on the wing and in the centre
– This is his second season with Ulster, after joining the province from Waikato and the Chiefs. He was originally with Wellington and the Hurricanes
– He qualifies for Ireland through his grandmother who was born in the County Antrim coastal town of Glenarm


Born: Belfast, August 27, 1979
Height: 5ft 11in; Weight: 12st 10lbs
Ireland Caps: 2
Ireland Points: 26 (1 try, 6 conversions and 3 penalty goals)
Ireland Debut: v South Africa, 2006

First Test against Wales, if he plays

– Came on as a substitute against South Africa last November to win his first Test cap. Scored 26 points, two weeks later, against the Pacific Islanders on his full debut
– He was the player – who was not Humphreys or O’Gara – to start at number 10 for Ireland for 78 Tests and seven years. Eric Elwood last played against Argentina at the 1999 World Cup
– And he was the first player who was not Elwood, Humphreys or O’Gara to start in Ireland’s out-half slot for 10 years and 115 games (Paul Burke’s last start was against Italy in 1997)
– He has been with Ulster since 2001, and though a recognised out-half he found David Humphreys hard to move so he became a utility player, lining out at centre and full-back
– Has played for Ireland at Under-19, Under-21, ‘A’ and Sevens level
– This is his sixth season in the Ulster squad, and he has played some 60 games for the province


Born: Kildare, April 19, 1978
Height: 6ft; Weight: 13st 7lbs
Ireland Caps: 44
Ireland Points: 85 (17 tries, 1 conversion and 1 drop goal)
Ireland Debut: v USA, 2000

Sixth Test against Wales, if he plays – 17 points (3 tries and 1 conversion)

– He is fourth equal on Ireland’s all-time top try scorers’ list, with former record holder Brendan Mullin
– He played in 10 of Ireland’s 11 Tests in 2006, being rested for the outing against the Pacific Islanders
– He has scored 12 tries and a drop goal from the full-back position and five touch downs from the wingers. He slotted over a conversion as a replacement for David Humphreys against Wales in August 2003
– He missed the 2003 World Cup after breaking his leg in the final warm-up game against Scotland. He returned against Italy in the 2004 Six Nations
– He played in the third Test for the Lions against New Zealand the following year
– Has been in England with Leicester Tigers since 1997 and his move from Naas RFC
– Won Heineken Cup winners’ medals with the Tigers in 2001 and 2002. He has played on both wings, at full-back and in the centre for Ireland