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Match Profiles: Ireland Forwards

Match Profiles: Ireland Forwards

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

8 – DENIS LEAMY (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Born: November 27, 1981
Height: 6ft 2in; Weight: 16st 10lbs
20th cap – 1 try = 5 points
Debut: v USA, 2004

* Second Test match v England – 1 try = 5 points (in 2006 win)
* First Test try in 2006 Triple Crown-clinching game against England
* Played all 11 Tests in 2006, and this is his 18th consecutive game for Ireland
* 17th Test at number 8 (including substitute appearances), after replacing Anthony Foley, he started in all back row positions during his first four caps
* Played around 100 games for Munster in all competitions, including Magners League and Heineken Cup
* 2006 Heineken Cup winner at number 6
* Capped for Ireland at Schools and Under-21 level

7 – DAVID WALLACE (Garryowen/Munster)
Born: July 8, 1976
Height: 6ft 2in; Weight: 15st 3lbs
35th cap – 6 tries = 30 points
Debut: v Argentina, 2000

* Fourth Test match v England – no points
* Returned to the Ireland side against Italy in the first Six Nations game of 2006, he had previously played just once in 13 internationals – against Japan in June 2005 – since the 2004 summer tour. He had been injured
* Played in 10 of Ireland’s 11 Tests in 2006 – was rested for the Pacific Islanders game. He was recalled in 2006 after fine form for Munster in their Heineken Cup triumph
* He has had three major long-term absences from the Ireland line-up due to injury
* He was a Lion in 2001 – all three Wallace brothers have been British and Irish Lions
* Was on the Ireland Development tour in 1997, then won Under-21 and ‘A’ caps, then went on the senior tour to South Africa in 1999 and won his first cap on the 2000 senior tour in Argentina

6 – SIMON EASTERBY (Llanelli Scarlets)
Born: January 27, 1975
Height: 6ft 3in; Weight: 15st 12lbs
55th cap – 6 tries = 30 points
Debut: v Scotland, 2000

* Fifth Test match v England – no points
* Missed the 2006 summer tour due to injury, after playing in every match in the 2006 Six Nations. Made is comeback in the autumn series and scored two tries against the Pacific Islanders
* One of the players in the current squad who made their Test debuts against Scotland in 2000, immediately after the 50-18 loss at Twickenham
* Captained Ireland for two Tests in 2005 against New Zealand and Australia, taking over from the injured Brian O’Driscoll
* Won 20 caps in a row before missing the 2005 tour to Japan, as he went on the Lions tour, playing impressively in the last two Tests against New Zealand. He scored a try in the second Lions Test and then returned to captain his country
* Played for his home town Harrogate, then Leeds Tykes and was eligible for England, but then had a spell with Sydney University before joining Llanelli in 1999
* Originally played for the Irish Exiles in the early part of his career and is younger brother of 28-times capped scrum half Guy Easterby
* Plays his club rugby in Wales with the Scarlets – played in the 2006 Powergen Cup final against Wasps

5 – PAUL O’CONNELL (Young Munster/Munster)
Born: October 20, 1979
Height: 6ft 6in; Weight: 17st 5lbs
42nd cap – 6 tries = 30 points
Debut: v Wales, 2002

* Fifth Test match v England – no points
* Scorer of the last try at the old Lansdowne Road (v Pacific Islanders) and captain for the first game at Croke Park against France
* Was the only European player to be nominated for the 2006 IRB World Player of the Year award, which was won by New Zealand’s Richie McCaw
* Captained Ireland against France (2004 and 2007) and Scotland (2005) – Brian O’Driscoll had a hamstring injury each time
* He returned against Italy in 2006 after missing the 2005 autumn Tests with thumb and hand injuries. He injured his shoulder against France last year but has had a clean bill of health since
* Won 25 caps in 27 Tests until the end of the 2005 Six Nations, then went on the Lions tour to New Zealand, starting in all three Tests
* Made his breakthrough at the 2003 World Cup, impressing in all five games – no points
* Made his Munster debut in 1999, and started in the 2006 Heineken Cup final win
* Has come through to the Ireland side via the Development XV and the ‘A’ team
* From Limerick, he was a talented golfer – has played off a 4 handicap – and swimmer who decided to concentrate on rugby

4 – DONNCHA O’CALLAGHAN (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Born: March 24, 1979
Height: 6ft 6in; Weight: 16st
33rd cap – 1 try = 5 points
Debut: v Wales, 2003

* Second Test match v England – no points
* Scored his first Test try v France in 2006 in the fine recovery from 43-3 down to 43-31
* 18 Tests as a substitute, 14 starts to date including starts in all three of the 2006 summer tour matches
* Played the second and third Tests for the Lions against New Zealand in 2005
* Some 100 games for Munster despite internationals Mick Galwey, Mick O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell also featuring in his position
* Progressed via the Ireland Under-19s – a world champion in 1998 – U-21s and ‘A’ team
* 2006 Heineken Cup winner, he came into the Ireland training squad for the 2003 Six Nations after Gary Longwell tore his hamstring against France
* Made his Test debut in a 25-24 win over Wales in Cardiff

3 – JOHN HAYES (Bruff/Munster)
Born: November 2, 1973
Height: 6ft 4in; Weight: 19st
71st cap – 2 tries = 10 points
Debut: v Scotland, 2000

* Seventh Test match v England – no points
* Only Ireland forward to start in all 11 Tests in 2006
* Test tries against Romania in 2002 and Scotland in 2005
* Passed Phil Orr (58 caps) as Ireland’s most capped prop – currently sixth equal on Ireland’s all-time caps list with Kevin Maggs on 70 caps
* 2005 Lion v Argentina, but did not make the Test side in New Zealand
* His first 34 Ireland caps came in 35 Tests (was rested against the USA in summer 2000) until he was injured before the 2003 summer tour. Missed six Tests before the ’03 World Cup after a groin injury. Then he had a run of 20 successive Tests up to the 2005 Lions tour
* First game of rugby aged 18, with Bruff RFC in Limerick, then moved to Shannon aged 20 and went on to win the All-Ireland League Division One title in 1995. Then went to New Zealand – to play for Invercargill between ’95 and ’97 – and was back to help Shannon win the ’98 league title. Now back with Bruff
* Was part of the Munster teams that lost the 2000 and 2002 Heineken Cup finals but was victorious with the province in 2006
* One of the players who made their Test debuts against Scotland in 2000, immediately after the 50-18 loss at Twickenham

2 – RORY BEST (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
Born: September 15, 1982
Height: 6ft; Weight: 16st 9lbs
10th cap – 2 tries = 10 points
Debut: v New Zealand, 2005

* First Test match v England
* Scored his first Test try against the Pacific Islanders in 2006, second try after 47 seconds against Wales in his next game
* Started against South Africa and Australia in 2006, coming in for the injured Jerry Flannery (shoulder)
* Impressed in the Heineken Cup to first claim his place in the Irish squad
* This is his third season with Ulster, he is a brother of prop Simon Best, and the brothers are affiliated with Belfast Harlequins, the same club as the capped Neil Best
* Educated at Portadown College, the University of Newcastle and QUB, he was a member of the Irish Under-21 side that took part in the World Cup in 2003

1 – MARCUS HORAN (Shannon/Munster)
Born: September 7, 1977
Height: 6ft 1in; Weight: 16st 7lbs
45th cap – 5 tries = 25 points
Debut: v USA, 2000

* Fourth Test match v England – no points
* Played in 27 of the previous 30 Ireland Tests before England 2007, since he came back from injury in 2004 – had previously played 16 times in 18 Tests before that injury
* Played in all five games at the 2003 World Cup – had come through to replace Peter Clohessy and Reggie Corrigan, and was originally used as an impact player
* A 2006 Heineken Cup winner with Munster, he won two All-Ireland League medals with Shannon
* Was on the Munster Schools team in 1996, made his senior provincial debut in 1998 and was capped by Ireland as a substitute against the USA in 2000. Played 13 times for Ireland ‘A’ before promotion back to the senior ranks in 2002

16 – JERRY FLANNERY (Shannon/Munster)
Born: October 17, 1978
Height: 6ft; Weight: 16st
12th cap (if he plays) – 2 tries = 10 points
Debut: v Romania, 2005

* Second Test match v England (if he plays) – no points
* Missed the 2006 autumn Tests with a shoulder injury after nine consecutive games since his debut
* Originally replaced Shane Byrne (41 caps) and Frankie Sheahan (neck injury) in the squad after impressing for Munster in the Heineken Cup
* Was a member of the Munster team that won the 2006 Heineken Cup, and is a club-mate of Marcus Horan and Peter Stringer at Shannon
* Played for the Ireland Under-21s and Students – he has an Economics degree from UCC
* He was originally with Munster, then moved to Connacht for a spell between 2001 and 2003 before returning to Munster as number 2 to Sheahan
* Played for Munster on a Friday night and then turned in a man-of-the-match display in Shannon’s 2004 AIB League Division One final win
* His family run a popular pub in Limerick

17 – SIMON BEST (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
Born: February 11, 1978
Height: 6ft 1in; Weight: 17st 8lbs
14th cap (if he plays) – 1 try = 5 points
Debut: v Tonga, 2003

* First Test match v England (if he plays)
* Three Tests in 2006, as a substitute – has started for Tests in his international career to date
* Has captained Ulster since 2005 is a brother of hooker Rory Best and also educated at Portadown College
* Was part of the Irish squad at the 2003 World Cup, playing in one game against Namibia as a substitute
* Played for Ireland ‘A’ from 2001 and was a member of the senior squad in ’03. Played for Ireland at all underage levels
* His club side, Belfast Harlequins, are an amalgamation of NIFC (Mike Gibson’s club) and Collegians

18 – MICK O’DRISCOLL (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Born: October 8, 1978
Height: 6ft 5in; Weight: 17st 7lbs
8th cap (if he plays) – no points
Debut: v Romania, 2001

* First Test match v England (if he plays)
* Ireland ‘A’ captain, and former Ireland Under-21 back row in 1999
* All his senior Ireland caps have come so far as a substitute
* Played for Munster since 1998 but spent a two-year period – 2003 to 2005 – with French side Perpignan before returning to his former province
* Was part of Munster’s 2006 Heineken Cup-winning squad
* Has the same club side – Cork Constitution – as Donncha O’Callaghan, Denis Leamy and Ronan O’Gara

19 – NEIL BEST (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
Born: April 3, 1978
Height: 6ft 2in; Weight: 15st 6lbs
9th cap (if he plays) – 2 tries = 10 points
Debut: v New Zealand, 2005

* First Test match v England (if he plays)
* Capped twice in the 2005 autumn Tests, then played all three games on the 2006 summer tour in place of the injured Simon Easterby. Was then outstanding in the 2006 autumn series but Easterby won his place back for the start of the 2007 Six Nations
* One of three recent international Bests – is not related to the other two in the squad, though all three are from the same club and province
* Educated at Wellington College, played his club rugby with Malone before a move to Belfast Harlequins
* Has played for Ulster since 2002 and has been in the senior squad from 2003 onwards