Joe Schmidt puts his stamp on Ireland squad
The 42 players will assemble at Carton House on Sunday
New Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt.
Joe Schmidt yesterday announced his first training squad as the new Irish coach.
Given Ireland used 48 players last season, a 10-match itinerary ravaged by injury before the summer Tests against the USA and Canada clashed with the Lions tour (and exactly 50 players were used when taking into account the non-Test game against Fiji) there was always going to be a few disappointed players, along with a few others who might now believe the slate is clean.
Aside from the half-dozen injured players Schmidt name-checked who could still come into consideration in the autumn, and the retired Ronan O’Gara, the most notable absentees from the summer tour are Tom Court, who subsequently also linked up with and played for the Lions, Jamie Hagan, Paul Marshall, James Downey and Darren Cave. The Connacht scrum-half Kieran Marmion, unused on the summer tour, also missed out to the more established trio of Conor Murray, Eoin Reddan and Isaac Boss.
Shane Jennings, a key leadership figure under Schmidt at Leinster, is called up after not featuring under Declan Kidney last season, as is last season’s Irish Wolfhounds captain, 33-year-old Munster number eight James Coughlan.
Indeed it is a measure of the typical competitiveness of the back-row that even without the injured Tommy O’Donnell, eight loose forwards are named along with six locks. These include Paul O’Connell, who didn’t feature for Ireland at all last season through injury, and is a leading candidate for the captaincy.
The other three players who didn’t feature last season are all uncapped, namely the fast emerging 23-year-old Leinster loose-head Jack McGrath, the in-form Dave Kearney, who typifies the well conditioned players who’ve emerged from pre-season with the province, and their former player Niall Morris, Geordan Murphy’s heir apparent as Leicester fullback.
The 42 players will assemble at Carton House on Sunday to begin the countdown to the Guinness Series in November when Ireland host Samoa, Australia and New Zealand, and included amongst them is the Paris-based Jonny Sexton.
IRELAND’S 42-MAN SQUAD
Backs (18): Rob Kearney (Leinster), Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Tommy Bowe (Ulster), Simon Zebo (Munster), Niall Morris (Leicester), Dave Kearney (Leinster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster), Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster), Keith Earls (Munster), Luke Marshall (Ulster), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro 92), Paddy Jackson (Ulster), Ian Madigan (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Isaac Boss (Leinster).
Forwards (24): Cian Healy (Leinster), David Kilcoyne (Munster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Stephen Archer (Munster), Declan Fitzpatrick (Ulster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Rory Best (Ulster), Seán Cronin (Leinster), Richardt Strauss (Leinster), Mike Sherry (Munster), Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster), Paul O’Connell (Munster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), Mike McCarthy (Leinster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Peter O’Mahony (Munster), Kevin McLaughlin (Leinster), James Coughlan (Munster), Shane Jennings (Leinster), Seán O’Brien (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Chris Henry (Ulster).