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Match Profiles: Ireland Backs

Match Profiles: Ireland Backs

See below for updated profiles of the backs selected in the Irish squad for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations clash with England at Croke Park.

15 – GIRVAN DEMPSEY (Terenure College/Leinster)
Born: October 2, 1975
Height: 6ft 2in; Weight: 14st
72nd cap – 14 tries = 70 points
Debut: v Georgia, 1998

* Ninth Test match v England – 1 try = 5 points (in 2004 win – his last Six Nations try)
* Is in good form this season and retains the full-back place ahead of Geordan Murphy
* Will move to third equal on the Ireland caps list with his 72nd cap along with Brian O’Driscoll, who is also winning his 72nd cap against England, and David Humphreys
* He was on the replacements bench for all of the 2006 Six Nations games – and only got onto the field for the Triple Crown-clinching game against England
* This is his 57th cap at full-back (including seven appearances as a replacement), played nine Tests on the wing (1998-99 and in 2005), and also six games as a substitute out of position
* Played 29 consecutive Tests from summer 2003 to Australia 2005 – prior to that run, he missed Test matches through a persistent groin injury
* Has scored two tries from the wing, and 12 tries from full-back in Test matches
* Has scored only three of his 14 tries in Six Nations games – his last Test try was against Romania in November 2005

14 – SHANE HORGAN (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Born: July 18, 1978
Height: 6ft 4in; Weight: 16st 1lb
53rd cap – 18 tries = 90 points
Debut: v Scotland, 2000

* Fifth Test match v England – 2 tries = 10 points (in 2006 win)
* Played 11 Tests in the centre, 41 caps on the wing
* Recovered from knee cartilage injury v Gloucester in Heineken Cup to play against France – he missed the Six Nations opener against Wales
* Scored two tries in the Triple Crown win over England last March, breaking a sequence of only two tries in his previous 13 Tests, and now has only Brian O’Driscoll and Denis Hickie ahead in the try-scoring list
* Affiliated with Lansdowne FC and has been in the Leinster squad since 1998
* One of five players in the starting team who made their Test debuts against Scotland in 2000, immediately after the 50-18 loss at Twickenham
* Was a substitute for the 2005 Lions against Argentina and New Zealand (all three Tests)

13 – BRIAN O’DRISCOLL (Blackrock College/Leinster)
Born: January 21, 1979
Height: 5ft 11in; Weight: 14st 3lbs
72nd cap – 29 tries, 4 drop goals = 157 points
Debut: v Australia, 1999

* Eight Test match v England – 1 try = 5 points (in 2005 win)
* 35th Test as captain, and has led Ireland to 25 wins in 34 Tests, but missed the recent match against France due to a hamstring strain
* Ireland’s record try scorer (29 tries), two ahead of Denis Hickie – but only scored one try (v New Zealand) in 2006. Scored though against Wales in 2007 Six Nations opener
* Now second on the Irish captaincy list behind leader Keith Wood (36)
* This is his 72nd cap, taking his third equal on the Ireland caps list with David Humphreys and Girvan Dempsey
* Has scored 17 tries in the Six Nations, beating the Irish record of 14 by George Stephenson with his try against England in 2005
* Scored Test hat-tricks against France (2000) and Scotland (2002)
* Played in all three Lions Tests in Australia in 2001, and was voted Ireland’s Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002, as well as last year’s RBS 6 Nations Player of the tournament

12 – GORDON D’ARCY (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Born: February 10, 1980
Height: 5ft 10in; Weight: 14st 8lbs
29th cap – 3 tries = 15 points
Debut: v Romania, 1999

* Third Test match v England – no points
* Test tries – two against Scotland (2004) and one against France (2006)
* Played just 25 minutes of Test rugby in 2004/05 due to hamstring problems. He returned for all three autumn Tests in 2005 and now this is his 17th success Test since that comeback
* Was voted the 2004 RBS 6 Nations Player of the tournament
* Won his first cap at the 1999 World Cup as a late call-up to the squad after Girvan Dempsey withdrew. He won his second cap against Fiji in 2002, some three years later. Was a tourist with the 2005 Lions
* Made his Leinster debut in 1998 as a teenager, Ireland ‘A’ debut in 1999, and full senior debut at the ’99 World Cup as a replacement for Conor O’Shea against Romania. He did not make the squad for the 2003 World Cup

11 – DENIS HICKIE (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Born: February 13, 1976
Height: 6ft 2in; Weight: 13st 9lbs
56th cap – 27 tries = 135 points
Debut: v Wales, 1997

* Seventh Test match v England – 2 tries = 10 points (in 1998)
* 50th cap v France in 2005, then played in the 2005 Grand Slam match against Wales for his last Test until Australia 2006 when he celebrated his recall with a try. Then added another try against the Pacific Islanders, but has not scored to date in the 2007 Six Nations
* Replaced the injured Andrew Trimble against Australia 2006 and had missed the previous 14 internationals
* His record haul of four tries against Italy in August 2003 took him to the top of Ireland’s try-scoring charts – passing Brian O’Driscoll, who reclaimed the honour while Hickie was injured in 2004
* Major injury problems for the 2005 Lions tourist have included a broken jaw in 1998 – he missed twelve months – and further injury in 2001. Had returned for the 2004 autumn Tests after missing eight matches due to a ruptured Achilles tendon (sustained against Australia at the 2003 World Cup)
* Try on his debut against Wales when aged 20 – he is currently second in the Irish try-scoring list behind O’Driscoll (29 tries)

10 – RONAN O’GARA (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Born: March 7, 1977
Height: 5ft 11in; Weight: 13st 6lbs
69th cap – 11 tries, 107 conversions, 130 penalties, 2 drop goals = 686 points
Debut: v Scotland, 2000

* Seventh Test match v England – 1 try, 4 conversions, 11 penalties, 2 drop goals = 52 points (1 try in 2002)
* Was Ireland’s first points and try scorer at Croke Park (v France)
* Joins Mike Gibson on 69 caps – equal eighth on the Ireland caps list – but is only the fifth most capped player in the current Ireland squad
* Top of the points list for the 2005 and 2006 Six Nations – totalled an Irish record 313 points at the start of this year’s Six Nations tournament
* Regained top place in the Irish all-time points scoring list from David Humphreys against France in 2006
* One of the players who made their Test debuts against Scotland in 2000, immediately after the 50-18 loss at Twickenham
* A 2005 Lions tourist – he was a substitute for the third Test against New Zealand
* Played in three Heineken Cup finals for Munster, scoring 13 points in the province’s 23-19 final win over Biarritz last year. Was also a Lions tourist in Australia in 2001

9 – PETER STRINGER (Shannon/Munster)
Born: December 13, 1977
Height: 5ft 7in; Weight: 11st
74th cap – 6 tries = 30 points
Debut: v Scotland, 2000

* Seventh Test match v England = no points
* Was a doubt after a hairline fracture of the metacarpal bone in his hand against Wales. He missed the France game – the first time he has missed an international through injury – but has been passed fit for this game
* Second on Ireland’s caps list behind Malcolm O’Kelly (83)
* One of the players who made their Test debuts against Scotland in 2000, immediately after the 50-18 loss at Twickenham
* Has won 73 caps in Ireland’s last 79 Tests (was rested against USA (2000), Fiji (2002), then Tonga, Samoa and Italy (2003) but was injured for France (2007)
* Has made 47 Test starts alongside school-mate Ronan O’Gara, and is Ireland’s most-capped scrum half
* Three Heineken Cup finals with Munster – losses in 2000 and 2002 and a try in the 2006 final win against Biarritz
* Rivalling France’s Pierre Mignoni for being the smallest player in the 2007 Six Nations

20 – ISAAC BOSS (Ballymena/Ulster)
Born: April 9, 1980
Height: 5ft 10in; Weight: 12st 5lbs
7th cap (if he plays) – no points
Debut: v New Zealand, 2006

* First Test match v England (if he plays)
* Played the final two Tests of the 2006 summer tour – against New Zealand (second Test) and Australia as a substitute, and has played in six of Ireland’s last seven Tests
* Made his second start for Ireland in place of the injured Peter Stringer (v France 2007). His first start was against Australia in autumn 2006
* Second season with Ulster, after joining from Waikato and the Chiefs and was originally with Wellington and the Hurricanes
* Qualifies for Ireland via his grandmother who was from Glenarm in county Antrim

21 – PADDY WALLACE (Ballymena/Ulster)
Born: August 27, 1979
Height: 5ft 11in; Weight: 12st 7lbs
3rd cap (if he plays) – 1 try, 6 conversions, 3 penalties = 26 points
Debut: v South Africa, 2006

* First Test match v England (if he plays)
* Substitute v South Africa in November 2006, coming on in injury-time – then scored 26 points against the Pacific Islanders on his full debut. Was the first starting Ireland number 10 who was not David Humphreys or Ronan O’Gara for 78 Tests and seven years (Eric Elwood v Romania at the 1999 World Cup)
* And the first starting number 10 who was not Elwood, Humphreys or O’Gara for ten years and 115 games (Paul Burke v Italy in 1997)
* Has been with Ulster since 2001, and though an out-half, he found Humphreys (72 caps) as first choice, so he became the utility player in the squad
* Has played for Ireland at Under-19, Under-21, ‘A’ and Sevens level
* This is his sixth season in the Ulster squad, and has played some 60 games for Ulster

22 – ANDREW TRIMBLE (Ballymena/Ulster)
Born: October 20, 1984
Height: 6ft 1in; Weight: 14st 10lbs
13th cap (if he plays) – 5 tries = 25 points
Debut: v Australia, 2005

* Second Test match v England (if he plays) – no points
* First two caps at centre, seven caps on left wing and one cap on the right wing – Wales in 2007 – and two Tests as a replacement. Missed last two Test in autumn 2006 due to a hamstring injury
* First call-up for the 2005 autumn series Tests
* Third season with Ulster Rugby
* Is a former Ireland Schools and Under-21 centre, plays club rugby for Ballymena
* Is a Theology student at Belfast’s Bible College