There is no denying that some of the greatest talents in world rugby come from either Ireland or Wales, with many British and Irish Lions tours down the years comprising heavily of men from both countries.
The two nations face off this weekend in what will be a massive game in determining the destination of the Six Nations title in the coming weeks, and with this in mind we’ve put together a combined Ireland-Wales XV.
This team would definitely take some beating.
1. Cian Healy – Ireland
The Leinster prop is simply unstoppable on his day. Powerful, a good ball-carrier and a wealth of experience upon his shoulders – the Dublin man is an absolute colossus for his country.
2. Rory Best – Ireland
A real tough choice between Best and Wales’ Ken Owens – but the Ireland captain pips his Welsh counterparts given his leadership qualities and his ability to get over the tryline. A leader in the scrum and someone who drives his team forward, Best is everything you could ask for in your captain.
3. Tadhg Furlong – Ireland
While it looks like he could still miss this one through injury, we have to include the Leinster man as he has established a reputation as one of the best in world rugby and would be the first on the team sheet if fully fit. However, Wales’ Samson Lee is also a fantastic ball-carrier should Furlong prove absent.
4. Iain Henderson – Ireland
Although still a doubt heading into the weekend’s game, Henderson’s ball-carrying is something that Ireland can call upon with great reliability. It is very hard to stop the Ulsterman and he makes great yardage for his country to build attacks upon. A key man in the side.
5. Alun Wyn Jones – Wales
Jones possesses a wealth of experience, is a passionate player and has an abundance of skill – The 32-year-old has been at the focal point of many of Wales’ successes, captaining the Lions being testament to just how highly regarded he is. James Ryan proves no competition to the Ospreys man here.
6. Peter O’Mahony – Ireland
A born leader, O’Mahony gives absolutely everything for 80 minutes no matter who he plays for, and his ability at the lineout as well as his power give Ireland a basis to secure and maintain possession. He is simply one of the best in the business.
7. Josh Navidi – Wales
Dan Leavy has impressed so far, but not as much as Navidi. Many questioned his selection at first, but he has been immense against both Scotland and England so far and will cause real problems for Ireland in the scrum should he replicate similar form.
8. CJ Stander – Ireland
One of the best ball carriers in the game, and an endless tank of stamina – Stander does not drop from first minute to last.
No player has made more carries in the opening two weekends, and should he be able to make any significant yardage Wales will have one serious problem on their hands.
9. Conor Murray – Ireland
Gareth Davies is enjoying a prolonged spell of form, but it would be simply impossible to keep Murray out of the team, especially given his scintillating display against the Italians. He always seems to find the perfect pass at the moment it matters most.
10. Johnny Sexton – Ireland
That last-minute drop-kick to secure victory against France showed just why many regard Sexton as the best fly-half on the planet.
He is a picture of both composure and skill, and again will be crucial to the Irish cause this weekend.
11. Steff Evans – Wales
A constant threat, something always looks like happening when Evans gets on the ball.
Lethal at club level, he is beginning to show this on the international stage – and he will be Wales’ main threat on Sunday.
12. Bundee Aki – Ireland
Excellent so far in the tournament, his two tries against Italy will only further enhance his growing reputation. Tough in the tackle and hard to bring down, if Aki hits full-flight, the Welsh will struggle to stop him.
13. Scott Williams – Wales
The Scarlets man just about shades his counterpart Hadleigh Parkes purely by means of his experience.
Injury to others means he sneaks in, but he is more than capable of causing damage to Ireland’s title hopes this weekend. His strength can be an asset that makes a difference.
14. Keith Earls – Ireland
Having Keith Earls in your team can guarantee you one thing – tries. His lightning acceleration, excellent handling and ability to turn a game on its head make him one of the best wingers in world rugby.
15. Leigh Halfpenny – Wales
Showed absolutely excellent form in terms of both kicking and attacking against Scotland. While he and Rob Kearney are both the picture of reliability, but Halfpenny’s ability with his boot is often the difference between victory and defeat.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena