Home Rugby George Hook Column: Ireland’s Player Ratings

George Hook Column: Ireland’s Player Ratings

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9. Jared Payne

Ireland Rugby Tour to South Africa 2016 Castle Lager Incoming Series First Test, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa 11/6/2016 South Africa vs Ireland Ireland’s Jared Payne scores a try Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland’s Jared Payne scores a try Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Finally, picked in his best position. He was magnificent in everything he did. Inferior to Rob Kearney in the air, but do we want a catch and kick player or a striker from the back? Over to you Joe.

6. Andrew Trimble

Ireland Rugby Tour South Africa 2016 1st Test Newlands Capetown 11/6/2016 South Africa Springboks vs Ireland Springboks Elton Jantjies chased by Ireland’s Andrew Trimble Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Springboks Elton Jantjies chased by Ireland’s Andrew Trimble Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Despite all the talk about the defensive system the Ulster wing continues to be worse without the ball than with it. He will be skinned before this series is over.

5. Robbie Henshaw

Ireland Rugby Tour to South Africa 2016 Castle Lager Incoming Series First Test, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa 11/6/2016 South Africa vs Ireland Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw receives a yellow card from referee Mathieu Raynal Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw receives a yellow card from referee Mathieu Raynal Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

A very average performance. Under Pat Lam a superstar; under Schmidt a workhorse. This series will tell us if he can live up to his billing. His late, high tackle was outrageous.

8. Luke Marshall

Ireland Rugby Tour to South Africa 2016 Castle Lager Incoming Series First Test, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa 11/6/2016 South Africa vs Ireland Ireland’s Luke Marshall on the attack Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland’s Luke Marshall on the attack Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

The smartest centre in Ireland was given his chance and he delivered. Marshall has been blighted by repeated head injuries and like others in the squad this tour could change his career.

7. Keith Earls

Ireland Rugby Tour to South Africa 2016 Castle Lager Incoming Series First Test, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa 11/6/2016 South Africa vs Ireland Ireland’s Keith Earls on the attack Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland’s Keith Earls on the attack Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

He was workmanlike without ever setting the world on fire. Ireland do not put wings in space so his strengths are not on show. Instead, his positioning is often exposed, which is unfair.

8. Paddy Jackson

Ireland Rugby Tour to South Africa 2016 Castle Lager Incoming Series First Test, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa 11/6/2016 South Africa vs Ireland Ireland’s Paddy Jackson kicks a penalty Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland’s Paddy Jackson kicks a penalty Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Maturity is a much-used word for Jackson but he may have come of age. As the game wound down one feared the worst.

There was poor punting, an intercept and a missed drop goal. To his everlasting credit he came through. He never flinched in the hard stuff.

8. Conor Murray

Ireland Rugby Tour to South Africa 2016 Castle Lager Incoming Series First Test, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa 11/6/2016 South Africa vs Ireland Ireland’s Conor Murray on the attack Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland’s Conor Murray on the attack Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

The scrum half is nothing if not predictable. Power, strength and bravery in abundance; decision-making and poor box-kicking once more in evidence.

His decision to kick the ball away with 30 seconds on the clock was mind-boggling.

7. Jamie Heaslip

Ireland Rugby Tour to South Africa 2016 Castle Lager Incoming Series First Test, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa 11/6/2016 South Africa vs Ireland Ireland's Jamie Heaslip celebrates after the match Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland’s Jamie Heaslip celebrates after the match Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

One always wonders just how good he might have been had he been directed to play a modern number 8 role. Within the limited framework he was magnificent but it could have been even better.

7. Jordi Murphy

Ireland Rugby Tour to South Africa 2016 Castle Lager Incoming Series First Test, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa 11/6/2016 South Africa vs Ireland Ireland's Jordi Murphy celebrates after the match Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland’s Jordi Murphy celebrates after the match Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Worked his socks off for the cause. He is not and never will be top of the range, but any squad would be happy to have him for his courage and work-rate.

4. CJ Stander

Ireland Rugby Tour South Africa 2016 1st Test Newlands Capetown 11/6/2016 South Africa Springboks vs Ireland Ireland’s CJ Stander and Jack McGrath Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland’s CJ Stander and Jack McGrath Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

On a personal level the red card was devastating but he deserved it. Enough said.

9. Devin Toner

Ireland Rugby Tour South Africa 2016 1st Test Newlands Capetown 11/6/2016 South Africa Springboks vs Ireland Ireland’s Devin Toner is Man of the Match Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland’s Devin Toner is Man of the Match Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

He is now Ireland’s most valuable player. Possession is 9/10 of the law and he is now close to world class in the lineout. He is more than tall.

8. Iain Henderson

Ireland Rugby Tour South Africa 2016 1st Test Newlands Capetown 11/6/2016 South Africa Springboks vs Ireland Ireland’s Iain Henderson Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland’s Iain Henderson Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

I suspect if South Africa could have one player it would be him. He epitomized everything that once made the ‘Boks great. Strength at the breakdown, consistency carrying the ball and wonderful retention.

5. Mike Ross

Ireland Rugby Tour to South Africa 2016 Castle Lager Incoming Series First Test, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa 11/6/2016 South Africa vs Ireland Ireland's Mike Ross and Tadgh Furlong celebrate after the match Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland’s Mike Ross and Tadgh Furlong celebrate after the match Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Too many miles on the clock and now does little more than hold the scrum up.

9. Rory Best

Ireland Rugby Tour South Africa 2016 1st Test Newlands Capetown 11/6/2016 South Africa Springboks vs Ireland Ireland’s Rory Best Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland’s Rory Best Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Another in the long line of great Irish hooker/captains. He performed outstandingly but leadership was incalculable. One felt for his frustration with the referee.

7. Jack McGrath

Ireland Rugby Tour to South Africa 2016 Castle Lager Incoming Series First Test, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa 11/6/2016 South Africa vs Ireland Ireland’s Jack McGrath is tackled by Springboks Eben Etzebeth Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland’s Jack McGrath is tackled by Springboks Eben Etzebeth Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

He continues to improve but the ball did not go his away as in other games. His concession of a silly penalty towards the end might have been crucial.

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