Monday 23 September 2019

The Irish 23 from the Millennium mauling: Where are they now?

18 October 2015; The Ireland team stand for the national anthem ahead of the game against Argentina at the Millennium Stadium in the 2015 Rugby World Cup Quarter-Final. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
18 October 2015; The Ireland team stand for the national anthem ahead of the game against Argentina at the Millennium Stadium in the 2015 Rugby World Cup Quarter-Final. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

It's three years since Joe Schmidt's men suffered a crushing World Cup quarter final defeat against Argentina.

From there to here: The players who survived after Millennium mauling

 

1. Jamie Heaslip

Then: Captain and No 8

Now: Suffered a back injury in the warm-up to the 2017 Six Nations meeting with England and never played again, officially retiring in February this year. Now has a number of business interests and is a pundit for Channel 4.

Caps since last RWC: 15

2. Mike Ross

Then: Tighthead prop

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Now: Continued with Ireland until winning his final cap in the defeat to South Africa at the end of the 2016 tour, while he soldiered on for another year with Leinster before retiring. Kept playing for Malahide and coached the Ireland women’s team’s scrum while working in the tech industry. Recently released his autobiography.

Caps since last RWC: 5

3. Rory Best

Then: Vice-captain and hooker

Now: Named captain of the team after the World Cup and set to lead the team for the 27th time this evening. Now 36, he has led the team to a Grand Slam, a first victory over the All Blacks and a first win over the Springboks in South Africa.

Caps since last RWC: 22

4. Cian Healy

Then: Starting loosehead prop

Now: Was not firing on all cylinders in 2015 but got the nod for the last-eight clash. Now he is in the form of his life and is one of the best players in his position in the world.

Caps since last RWC: 25

5. Tommy Bowe

Then: Starting winger

Now: Bowe was forced off with a serious knee injury early in the game and missed the subsequent season. Only played twice more for Ireland and finished his career with Ulster at the end of last season. Now presenting eir Sport’s coverage, runs a schools rugby competition and has a fashion line.

Caps since last RWC: 2

6. Jordi Murphy

Then: Starting blindside flanker

Now: Moved to Ulster at the end of last season after starting the Champions Cup final for his native Leinster. Came off the bench against Italy last weekend, but not involved in tonight’s match-day squad.

Caps since last RWC: 10

7. Devin Toner

Then: Starting second-row

Now: On the bench tonight, but still very much one of the leading lights in the Leinster and Irish packs and producing excellent performances in both jerseys at 33. The player Schmidt has capped most since the last World Cup.

Caps since RWC: 30

8. Rob Kearney

Then: Starting full-back

Now: Still first-choice No 15, but a shoulder injury has handed one of the next generation an opportunity in Jordan Larmour. Endured some difficult days with injury since Cardiff, but has bounced back and enjoyed a fine 12 months.

Caps since RWC: 19

9. Dave Kearney

Then: Starting winger

Now: One of the most-used players at the 2015 World Cup, Kearney endured a difficult day on the wing and has only played for Ireland three times since as a combination of injury, form and the rise of a new generation squeezed him out of the picture.

Caps since RWC: 3

10. Chris Henry

Then: Starting openside flanker

Now: Retired on Tuesday after an injury-hit period. Henry never featured for Ireland again after a disappointing performance in Cardiff. Played on with Ulster, but struggled to hit the heights that saw him help the country to the 2014 Six Nations as a starter.

Caps since RWC: 0

11. Jack McGrath

Then: Replacement loosehead prop

Now: Back on the bench after a period of ascendancy that saw him earn a place on the 2017 Lions tour, where he was a replacement in all three Tests. Now an important member of the match-day squad at Leinster and Ireland.

Caps since RWC: 26

12. Conor Murray

Then: Starting scrum-half

Now: Currently injured, but a key man in Schmidt’s set-up who is celebrating a lucrative new deal that will see him remain at Munster until 2022. Arguably the best scrum-half in the world.

Caps since RWC: 25

13. Keith Earls

Then: Starting outside centre

Now: Has become a central figure in this Ireland team and a quiet but effective leader behind the scenes. Recently penned a new deal, starts on the wing this evening and has not started in midfield for Ireland since 2015.

Caps since RWC: 24

14. Robbie Henshaw

Then: Starting inside centre

Now: A central figure in the Irish midfield for some time, Henshaw moved to Leinster in 2016 after helping Connacht to win the PRO12 title and is a key man in blue. Starts at outside centre tonight.

15. Donnacha Ryan

Then: Replacement second-row

Now: Remained a front-line Irish player until he moved to Racing 92 in France in 2017 where he was a leading light in their run to the Champions Cup final last season.

Caps since RWC: 13

16. Ian Madigan

Then: Starting out-half

Now: Remained in Ireland for another year, winning five caps, but left for Bordeaux Begles in 2016 and hasn’t played for the national team since. Left France for Bristol after one season and is now their starting No 10 having helped Pat Lam’s team to promotion.

Caps since RWC: 5

17. Eoin Reddan

Then: Replacement scrum-half

Now: Retired after the 2016 summer tour to South Africa to take up a position in aircraft leasing. Also a pundit who regularly appears on Irish radio.

Caps since RWC: 3

18. Nathan White

Then: Replacement tighthead prop

Now: The Connacht prop retired in 2016 due to concussion and returned to his native New Zealand where he recently assisted Jono Gibbes as forwards coach at Waikato in the Mitre 10 Cup.

Caps since RWC: 5

19. Iain Henderson

Then: Starting second-row

Now: Still in position as he and James Ryan start tonight’s game as the firm first-choice pairing. Henderson was one of the stars of last year’s Six Nations win and was awarded a central contract last season.

Caps since RWC: 16

20. Richardt Strauss

Then: Replacement hooker

Now: Retired at the end of last season after enduring a torrid time with injuries and returned to South Africa.

Caps since RWC: 4

21. Luke Fitzgerald

Then: Replacement back three

Now: Retired in 2016 after a suffering a neck injury and now hosts The Left Wing podcast on independent.ie. He is also an analyst with eir Sport and works for AIB.

Caps since RWC: 0

22. Paddy Jackson

Then: Replacement out-half

Now: Was in line to be Johnny Sexton’s back-up out-half for next year’s World Cup until he stood trial on rape charges last year. Was found not guilty, but the IRFU revoked his contract in the aftermath of the case and he now plays for Perpignan in the French Top 14 and is not considered for Ireland.

Caps since RWC: 12

23. Rhys Ruddock

Then: Replacement back-row

Now: Captained Ireland on the summer tour of 2017 and again last weekend, but is behind Peter O’Mahony in the pecking order in the back-row. A leading light for Leinster.

Caps since RWC: 14

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