For many years Leinster were more synonymous with stars in their three quarter line than their pack. While that cliche is a thing of the past, it's still somewhat surprising that the competition for places in the greatest Leinster XV of the pro era is arguably more intense upfront than out wide.

The front row is no exception with quality candidates in each position.


For a time it looked certain that Jack McGrath would usurp Cian Healy as the foremost Leinster loosehead of the professional era but Healy’s recent rejuvenation has sealed his place as one of Irish Rugby’s modern greats.

In a recent interview Ronan O’Gara rated Healy as the "Irish player of the decade".  While the form of Healy and Dave Kilcoyne has seen McGrath fall out of the Irish 23, it’s worth noting that he was a test match Lion as recently as 2017.

Loosehead has possibly been the position with the greatest depth of talent in the country over the last number of years, a fact which makes Healy’s achievements even more impressive.

Reggie Corrigan rounds out the list of contenders. A mainstay for years and one a handful of players to just miss out on Leinster’s transformation from underachievers to European heavyweights.

Candidates: Cian Healy, Jack McGrath, Reggie Corrigan

RTÉ selection Cian Healy


There are four strong candidates at hooker in the shape of Sean Cronin, Richardt Staruss, Bernard Jackman and Shane Byrne.

On longevity Jackman is the one to lose out but his emergence post the Lansdowne horror show in 2006 was one of a number of signs that Leinster had shed any soft outer shell.

Shane Byrne’s departure for Saracens in 2005 saw him miss out, to a degree, on the huge rise in popularity Leinster and Irish Rugby was about to experience. It's easy to forget he was the reigning Lions test Hooker at the time.

What probably separates Strauss and Cronin is they had success, longevity and consistent excellence in the Leinster number 2 shirt.

It sounds strange to say of someone with over 70 international caps and a bulging medal collection but it still feels like successive coaches never quite got the best out of Sean Cronin.

From the moment he chased down a winger in the 2006 All-Ireland league final it was clear he was a rare athlete by Irish Rugby standards. It's surprising that someone of that ability never quite nailed down the Leinster or Ireland jersey but that talent alone though gets him a place in this selection.

Candidates: Sean Cronin, Richardt Strauss, Shane Byrne

RTÉ selection Sean Cronin



Tadhg Furlong and Mike Ross are certainties to make any short list. Alongside them is a stellar cast, none of which enjoyed a long tenure in the jersey.

Paul Wallace, Stan Wright and Ollie Le roux fall into this category. At the peak of their powers i would opt for Wallace or Le Roux all day but for his contribution to Leinster Stan Wright gets the nod.

In reality though, it’s between Ross and Furlong.

People forget how woefully dependent on, first, John Hayes and latterly Mike Ross that Irish Rugby was.  The subsequent investment in Irish propping resources has led to the new breed we have at the position, best exemplified by Furlong.

Arguably the best tighthead in the world over the last number of years, it would be no surprise if by the end of his career Furlong is considered the best to have ever worn the green.

Candidates: Tadhg Furlong Mike Ross Stan Wright

RTÉ selection Tadhg Furlong