It was Semi-Final weekend in the RaboDirect Pro12 and three Irish Provinces were in action. On Friday, Munster travelled to Glasgow and lost out by a single point in a hugely entertaining game. Leinster overcame a mammoth challenge from Ulster at the RDS on Saturday in an enthralling game. Here are the top 10 Irish players from these games.
10: Devin Toner:
Toner’s influence on the Leinster team is becoming more prominent with every game he plays. Against Ulster he was an immovable force and will be key to his side’s hopes in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 Final against Glasgow on May 31st. He will also have a major role to play in Ireland’s touring party to Argentina this Summer.
9: Roger Wilson:
Roger Wilson had a superb game against Leinster and will hope his strong end to the season will secure his place at the back of the scrum for Ulster next season. It has been a frustrating return to Ulster for Wilson but he is a quality player and always performs when called upon.
8: Dave Foley:
Foley has had a strong season for Munster and his performance against Glasgow will have impressed many. Along with some fierce tackling in defence and making good ground with ball in hand, Foley’s performance also included some fantastic lineout steals.
7: Darren Cave:
Cave was up against the Irish starting centre partnership in O’Driscoll and Darcy at the RDS and has been named in Ireland’s squad that will tour Argentina. He has had a fine season and deserves his chance with Ireland.
6: Rhys Ruddock:
At blindside flanker Ruddock has been one of Leinster’s most consistent players this season and has finally secured a regular starting place. Ruddock has been patient at Leinster and rejected an offer from Munster last season to stay and fight for his place at the RDS and has been rewarded with a place in the Irish squad for the Argentina tour.
5: Rory Best:
Best made a surprising return to the Ulster starting 15 for the Leinster game and was typically excellent in all facets of the game. He is without doubt Ireland’s best hooker and arguably the best in the Northern Hemisphere.
4: Sean Dougall:
There is not much left to say about Sean Dougall’s performances for Munster this season. He was again sensational for Munster in their defeat against Glasgow and was easily their best player. Dougall will surely be a major cog in Anthony Foley’s Munster team next season.
3: Chris Henry:
Henry has had a magnificent season and has cemented his position in the Irish team. He put in another major display against Leinster and will be key to Ireland’s hopes in Argentina.
2: Iain Henderson:
Henderson laid down a marker against Leinster with arguably his best game in his short career. At just 22 years of age, he has a huge career ahead of him and in many people’s eyes he is the long term successor to Paul O’Connell.
1: Ian Madigan:
Madigan wasn’t on the field long but he was the match winner against Ulster with a sublime try in the 72nd minute. He has had an indifferent season and has struggled to displace Jimmy Gopperth at out half for Leinster. This play alone could see him start the RaboDirect Pro12 Final but it is not enough to earn him a place in the Irish squad as Joe Schmidt has surprisingly left him out.
John Keogh, Pundit Arena.
Click here to see the Ireland squad for the summer tour of Argentina.