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Irish Players Feature In League’s Dream Team

Irish Players Feature In League’s Dream Team

Ireland and Lions number 8 Jamie Heaslip and Magners League record breaker Tim Visser are the sole survivors in the 2010/11 Magners League Dream Team from last year’s selection.

Tim Visser overtook Jamie Robinson and Kevin Morgan as the league’s record try scorer in a season with his 13th touchdown in Edinburgh’s round 19 win over Aironi Rugby.

He went on to extend his lead as the top try scorer for the campaign with a 14th in the victory over the Newport Gwent Dragons.

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He is the only Edinburgh player included in the side, which comprises representatives from a record nine of the 12 teams in the newly-expanded league.

The 23-year-old Dutch-born, but soon to be Scottish-qualified, Visser led the way in 2009/10 with 10 tries and with one game left to play in the regular season he had made it 24 tries in 37 games over the two seasons.

Not surprisingly the ‘flying Dutchman’ gathered more votes than any other player selected for the fifth Magners League Dream Team, chosen by a panel of 19 journalists from the four participating nations.

He received 17 votes, while fellow winger Fionn Carr, the first Connacht player to join the Magners League elite, polled six.

Leinster lead the way for the third time in five years with five players and there are eight players from the four Irish provinces, with one each from table-topping Munster (Ronan O’Gara), play-off chasing Ulster (Ruan Pienaar) and Connacht (Fionn Carr).

There are four overseas players included in the side in Isa Nacewa (Leinster/Fiji), Casey Laulala (Cardiff Blues/New Zealand), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster/South Africa) and Richardt Strauss (Leinster/South Africa).

Jamie Heaslip, the man-of-the-match in Leinster’s Heineken Cup semi-final win over Toulouse last weekend, made it five years in-a-row with his inclusion in the 2010/11 Dream Team – the only ever-present.

The number 8 has been at the centre of one of the outstanding back rows in the to competition, helping Leinster reach the Magners League semi-finals and the Heineken Cup final.

He pipped Munster rival James Coughlan and Scarlets newcomer Ben Morgan to the number 8 slot, although his provincial colleague Sean O’Brien was also in the mix.

The remarkably versatile O’Brien received votes in all three back row positions and polled twice as many votes overall as any of the other 20 players nominated for the three positions.

In the end, O’Brien led the way for the blindside flanker’s role, with Cardiff Blues rising star Sam Warburton taking the number 7 shirt.

Glasgow Warriors’ Scotland ock Richie Gray topped the voting among the locks and has the Ospreys’ skipper Alun Wyn Jones packing down alongside him in a second row.

Leinster’s rising front row reputation is reflected in the selection of Ireland tighthead prop Mike Ross ahead of the choice for the past two seasons, Wales and Lions ace Adam Jones, at number 3 and Strauss at hooker.

The loosehead spot goes to one of the most consistent performers over the history of the Magners League, the Scarlets’ former Wales prop Iestyn Thomas.

He heads a list that featured Wales prop Paul James as his nearest rival as he returned to the Dream Team for the first time since its inception in the 2006/07 season.

Behind the scrum there are three more standout selections alongside that of Visser. Leinster full-back Nacewa picked up 16 votes, with three other candidates polling only one each.

The Scarlets’ Welsh centre Jonathan Davies picked up 14 votes for one of the two centre berths with his nearest rivals getting only five.

Brian O’Driscoll, a Dream Team member for the two previous campaigns, was one of those two, but he was beaten on a second draw to the number 13 jersey by the Blues’ Casey Laulala.

At scrum half, Ulster’s regular match winner Ruan Pienaar was a runaway winner with 13 votes – 10 more than the man he replaced, Leinster’s Isaac Boss, while his half-back partner is Munster’s points machine Ronan O’Gara, who returns to the Dream Team after a season’s absence.


15 – Isa Nacewa (Leinster)
14 – Fionn Carr (Connacht)
13 – Casey Laulala (Cardiff Blues)
12 – Jonathan Davies (Scarlets)
11 – Tim Visser (Edinburgh)
10 – Ronan O’Gara (Munster)
9 – Ruan Pienaar (Ulster)

1 – Iestyn Thomas (Scarlets)
2 – Richardt Strauss (Leinster)
3 – Mike Ross (Leinster)

4 – Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys)
5 – Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors)
6 – Sean O’Brien (Leinster)
7 – Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues)
8 – Jamie Heaslip (Leinster)

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Five Irish Players Make League’s Dream Team