Hayes first picked up a rugby ball at the age of the age of 19 but has been an almost constant presence in the Ireland pack since his first cap against Scotland in February 2000.
"The Bull" was a latecomer to the game - he first lined out as a flanker for local club Bruff at the age of 19, but spells with Shannon and Invercargill in New Zealand helped mould him into a prop.
Educated at Doon CBS, Hayes was called into the Ireland squad for the summer tour to South Africa, after helping Shannon to the 1998 AIB League Division One title. However, the Limerick native had to wait until 2000 to make his debut.
Hayes started all ten of Ireland’s internationals in the Triple Crown-winning year of 2004. The 2004/05 season saw him score his second Test try against Scotland and earn a call-up for the Lions.
A veritable rock in the Irish scrum and lineout, the teak-tough tighthead played in all 19 of Ireland’s Test matches prior to the recent summer tour to Argentina.
He beat Phil Orr’s long-standing record (58 caps) as Ireland’s most-capped prop by starting against Italy, France, Wales, Scotland and England in the 2006 Six Nations - winning his 60th cap against Wales.
Hayes has continued to amass caps featuring in every game during the 2007 RWC and the 2008 RBS 6 Nations.
This season Hayes has again featured in every Ireland game. He reached a record 47 appearances in the RBS 6 Nations in the game against England.
In over 90 games for Ireland he has only ever been a replacement 4 times making for an incredible tally of starting games.