Rugby

5 standout performers in Ireland’s title-winning Six Nations side

Tadhg Beirne capped a string of standout displays by celebrating title success on the occasion of his 50th Ireland cap.

Ireland have retained the Guinness Six Nations title
Ireland players huddle together Ireland have retained the Guinness Six Nations title (Niall Carson/PA)

Ireland claimed back-to-back Guinness Six Nations titles by beating Scotland in Dublin.

Here, the PA news agency picks out five standout performers for Andy Farrell’s side during the championship.

Tadhg Beirne

Tadhg Beirne secured Ireland’s bonus-point in the round-three win over Wales
Tadhg Beirne secured Ireland's bonus-point in the round-three win over Wales Tadhg Beirne secured Ireland’s bonus-point in the round-three win over Wales (Niall Carson/PA)

Beirne capped a string of standout displays by celebrating title success on the occasion of his 50th Ireland cap. The influential workhorse, who formed an impressive second-row partnership with the emerging Joe McCarthy, reads the game superbly and is a menace in both attack and defence. He produced key lineout steals and also chipped in with crucial tries.

Bundee Aki

Ireland’s Bundee Aki has been in fine form
Ireland’s Bundee Aki has been in fine form Ireland’s Bundee Aki has been in fine form (David Davies/PA)

It is 10 years since New Zealand-born Aki joined Connacht and he has arguably never been more important to his adopted country. The colossal centre was outstanding at last year’s Rugby World Cup and continued that fine form during the championship. His forceful carrying skills were a key weapon for Ireland, punching holes in opposition defences, while he was lethal presence at the breakdown.

Caelan Doris

Caelan Doris captained his country for the first time in Ireland’s round-two win over Italy
Caelan Doris captained his country for the first time in Ireland's round-two win over Italy Caelan Doris captained his country for the first time in Ireland’s round-two win over Italy (Brian Lawless/PA)

While try-scoring hooker Dan Sheehan and powerful prop Andrew Porter deserve honourable mentions, dynamic Doris once again excelled in a formidable forward pack. The 25-year-old has emerged as the successor to captain Peter O’Mahony after skippering his side against Italy. A tackling machine and fearsome carrier, he still has the potential to hit new heights and appears certain to join Farrell on next year’s British and Irish Lions tour.

James Lowe

James Lowe shone on Ireland’s left wing
James Lowe shone on Ireland's left wing James Lowe shone on Ireland’s left wing (Brian Lawless/PA)

Named official man of the match for the round three-win over Wales, Lowe consistently starred on the left flank and finished among the tournament’s top try scorers. The New Zealand-born wing brings a different dimension to Ireland’s attack. Offloads, line breaks and carries were just some of the areas where he has shone, while his trusty left boot remains a significant strength.

Jack Crowley

Jack Crowley (right) has filled the void left by Johnny Sexton
Jack Crowley, right, has filled the void left by Johnny Sexton Jack Crowley (right) has filled the void left by Johnny Sexton (Niall Carson/PA)

The talented 24-year-old began the tournament as a genuine Test rookie and ended it having admirably filled the void left by the retired Johnny Sexton. Crowley formed a fine half-back partnership with the equally-impressive Jamison Gibson-Park to steer his country to glory. A maiden senior try in the second-round victory over Italy was a major high, while his unwavering mental resilience came to the fore following a few kicking errors.