Sunday 17 December 2017

Five Irish players included in the Six Nations Statistical Team of the Championship

Simon Zebo, Tadhg Furlong and CJ Stander made the XV
Simon Zebo, Tadhg Furlong and CJ Stander made the XV

Independent.ie Newsdesk.

Five Irishmen have been included in the statistical team of the Six Nations, more than any other team.

The XV was compiled using statistics gathered by Accenture throughout the tournament.

England and Wales both provided three players with France and Italy responsible for two each.

Munster duo Keith Earls and Simon Zebo were joined in the back division by Stuart Hogg, centres Owen Farrell and Jonathan Davies and the halfback partnership of Finn Russell and Rhys Webb.

On Earls, they wrote: "With eight clean breaks and three tries, Keith Earls was one of the most potent threats in the Championship, helping Ireland to second place in the table.

"Earls beat 13 defenders over the course of the Championship, bettered only by Louis Picamoles and CJ Stander in the Accenture team."

On the selection of Zebo, they said: "Like wing partner Keith Earls, Simon Zebo was a menace throughout the Championship for Ireland, finishing with eight clean breaks.

"His 332 metres made in this team place him second only to Louis Picamoles, while Zebo also caught 24 balls in the air, showing his value under the high ball.

"Add in an 88 percent tackle success rate and it was a strong Championship for the Munster winger."

Irish props Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong were chosen in the front row alongside Wales' Ken Owens, Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes made up an all-English second row, while CJ Stander was joined in the back row by Kevin Gourdon and Louis Picamoles of France.

On Jack McGrath's inclusion, they wrote: "Jack McGrath is part of an all-Irish prop pairing and given the way their scrum performed that is little surprise.

"The Irish won every one of their scrums while McGrath was on the pitch and he was also a rock in defence, missing just one tackle and making 46.

"He also managed a couple of defenders beaten and a couple of offloads in a strong campaign."

On Furlong, who looks nailed on to tour with the Lions this summer, they said: "Like prop partner Jack McGrath, Tadhg Furlong gets in on the back of Ireland's powerful scrum, also enjoying a 100 percent success rate on Irish ball.

"Furlong was similarly impressive in defence, making 43 tackles in all with a 96 percent success rate, while he was also used with ball in hand, carrying 44 times and beating six defenders."

On CJ Stander, they added: "In terms of quantity of carries, Ireland's CJ Stander was unrivalled across the RBS 6 Nations with 103 in total, more than 30 ahead of the next highest carrier.

"As a result he made 234 metres with ball in hand, while also beating 14 defenders, and he also became the first forward to score a hat-trick in the Championship since France's Michel Crauste in 1962."

The team in full: (15-9) Stuart Hogg, Keith Earls, Jonathan Davies, Owen Farrell, Simon Zebo, Finn Russell, Rhys Webb; (1-8) Jack McGrath, Ken Owens, Tadhg Furlong, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, CJ Stander, Kevin Gourdon, Louis Picamoles.

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