Until the Holy Grail was finally reached in 2006, Munster backlines were largely considered functional as opposed to spectacular.

Whilst this didn't apply to the half-backs there was a prevailing narrative in the mid noughties that a lack of cutting edge out wide was the final barrier preventing Munster from laying their hands on the European Cup.

The emergence of Barry Murphy early in the 2005/06 season seemed to have finally given Munster the cutting edge their supporters craved.

Irony of ironies, Murphy gets injured halfway through the year and Munster go on to lift the cup without him.

That the standard of outside back signed from abroad and the standard of player developed within the province both rose markedly around this point ensures that the competition for places in Munster’s greatest XV of the professional era is fierce.

Back Three


Many of Munster’s full-backs since the onset of professionalism are heralded far more within the province than without. Think Pat Murray, Dominic Crotty, Shaun Payne.

Undoubtedly the best player to wear the Munster 15 jersey was Christian Cullen, unfortunately his best form was becoming an ever more distant memory on the few occasions injury allowed him take the field for Munster.

Post 2006 Denis Hurley, Felix Jones, Paul Warwick and Simon Zebo took up the mantle at various junctures.

Leaving Cullen aside, the most talented were probably Warwick and Zebo.

That neither started their careers as a full-back possibly demonstrates that Munster have had a certain difficulty filling the jersey in more recent times.

Of the others Payne brings the best mixture of reliability, consistency and attacking ability, a slightly more modern version of Pat Murray.

As the provinces record try-scorer, someone whose absence is still keenly felt and considering the other quality available for selection on the wing, Zebo is the obvious choice for selection.

RTÉ selection: Simon Zebo


With Zebo selected at full-back the wing positions are slightly simplified.

Still, with the likes of Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Doug Howlett, Ian Dowling, Anthony Horgan and John Kelly, there are plenty of contenders to choose from.

In truth Earls and Howlett stand above the rest in terms of talent, impact and achievements.

Horgan and Kelly were both under appreciated. Conway is most certainly starting to push hard for inclusion but Howlett and Earls round out a potent back three and one which could hold its own in any company.

RTÉ selection: Doug Howlett, Keith Earls