Ireland player ratings: World’s best back-rowers Caelan Doris and Josh van der Flier once again show their class

Colin Newboult
Ireland player ratings v Italy Caelan Doris and Josh van der Flier shine

Ireland's Caelan Doris is tackled by Italy's Luca Bigi during the Guinness Six Nations match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy. Picture date: Saturday February 25, 2023.

Following a 34-20 victory over Italy in their Six Nations Test at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, here are the player ratings for Ireland.

15 Hugo Keenan: Once again, the Leinsterman was solid at the back. Took his try very well and never put a foot wrong. 7

14 Mack Hansen: Not sure how he was awarded the player of the match award, despite some good moments. Finished his try well and was good in most facets. 7

13 Bundee Aki: Great with the ball, not so without. Garry Ringrose was very much missed in that outside centre channel, with Ireland’s midfield struggling in defence. 6

12 Stuart McCloskey: Better than his partner defensively and a couple of times dug Aki out of a hole when Italy threatened. Carried hard and was very good in the latter stages when Ireland needed a ball carrier to tire Italy out. 6

11 James Lowe: A mixed game from the wing. Botched a try early on and then denied another late in the game, but he was at the heart of some of Ireland’s better moments. 7

10 Ross Byrne: Won’t get the plaudits, but it was a quietly effective game from the fly-half. Wasn’t helped by the centre combination outside him, which did not work, but Byrne’s option-taking was good throughout. Also showed composure when his team were under pressure. 8

9 Craig Casey: Took his chance to start well by delivering quick ball. Also won a great turnover when Italy were deep inside their 22. They needed Conor Murray’s experience late on, however. 7

World-class back-row duo star again

8 Jack Conan: Given his chance after being on the bench in the opening two matches, but didn’t take his opportunity. Gavin Coombes should be ahead of him for the final encounters. 5

7 Josh van der Flier: Relentless with and without the ball. Some key interventions stopped Italian momentum and kept their Six Nations Grand Slam hopes alive. 8

6 Caelan Doris: Quieter – albeit effective – at blindside, but Ireland’s best player when he moved to number eight. This game did at least answer a few questions for Andy Farrell in regards to the make-up of the back-row. 8

5 James Ryan (c): Another busy display from the lock, who made ground with ball in hand and was excellent in defence. 7

4 Iain Henderson: Quieter than his lock partner. Defended well but will need to step up in the final two matches with Tadhg Beirne ruled out. 6

3 Finlay Bealham: Didn’t make it to half-time after suffering a concerning injury, potentially putting further strain on Ireland’s tighthead stocks. Up to that point, he was solid. 6

2 Ronan Kelleher: Has been usurped by Dan Sheehan but given his chance to start in Rome and took it. Set-piece was solid, and he was everywhere in the loose. A good display. 7

1 Andrew Porter: One silly penalty and a mixed day in the set-piece. Never shirks responsibility, but Farrell will want more from the loosehead. 5

Replacements: Tom O’Toole was once again impressive, and Conor Murray brought some much-needed calmness to proceedings. 7

READ MORE: Italy player ratings: Lorenzo Cannone shines in a brave Azzurri performance against Ireland