Thursday 22 February 2018

English newspaper includes four Irishmen in their list of the 20 'hardest' players in Six Nations history

Martin Johnson, Peter Clohessy and Sebastian Chabal were obvious candidates for the list
Martin Johnson, Peter Clohessy and Sebastian Chabal were obvious candidates for the list Newsdesk Newsdesk

The Daily Telegraph has formulated a list of the 20 toughest players in the history of the Six Nation (and Five Nations) and an Irishman is the only current player to make the list.

Munster skipper Peter O'Mahony is the only active player in the list which includes some of the hardest men to hold an oval ball in their hands.

The former Irish players who make the list are giant Limerick lock Paul O'Connell, Peter 'The Claw' Clohessy and ex-Ulster juggernaut Stephen Ferris.

On O'Mahony, they write: "He may not look enormous but everything about him is hard. And it's a very natural hardness. Pound for pound he's as good as anyone else around and everything about his game is flat out."

We will never forget the sight of Stephen Ferris lifting Will Genia like a sack of spuds and driving him back with the entire Australian pack hanging out of him.

"During his playing days he was known as the hard man of British and Irish rugby. The Ulsterman was apparently so strong even Paul O'Connell flinched at the weights he shifted," they said of Ferris.

Clohessy was a cult hero during his time with Munster and Ireland. He set himself ablaze when burning rubbish at the back of his family farm in 2002 but played in a Heineken Cup semi-final four weeks later.

They wrote: "Knows as 'The Claw', all Ireland cheered when he wore the green. Others, however, jeered him like a pantomime villain and cursed at the very mention of his name. A local hero and hardman, he was not slow in occasionally taking the law into his own hands."

The Telegraph left the loftiest praise for O'Connell.

" Ireland's inspirational captain was a great player, a hard man - and a legend in his homeland. He belongs to a Mount Rushmore lineage of warriors, Willie John McBride, Sean Fitzpatrick, Martin Johnson, men who had grit and defiance at their core."

Here is the complete list (in no particular order):

1. Finlay Calder (Scotland)

2. Danny Grewcock (England)

3. Martin Johnson (England)

4. Sebastian Chabal (France)

5. Wade Dooley (England)

6. Jean-Pierre Rives (France)

7. Mickey Skinner (England)

8. Gerard Cholley (France)

9. Julian White (England)

10. Bobby Windsor (Wales)

11. Peter O'Mahony (Ireland)

12. JPR Williams (Wales)

13. John Jeffrey (Scotland)

14. Stephen Ferris (Ireland)

15. Serge Betsen (France)

16. Paul O'Connell (Ireland)

17. Martin Castrogiovanni (Italy)

18. Peter Clohessy (Ireland)

19. Jack Matthews (Wales)

20. Gordon Brown (Scotland)

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