Blade, Carty and Farrell: meet Ireland’s Six Nations newcomers

Joe Schmidt has handed a trio of Connacht backs their first international call-ups

Tom Farrell offloads during Connacht’s defeat to Munster. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Tom Farrell offloads during Connacht’s defeat to Munster. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

Joe Schmidt has named his 38-man Ireland squad, as his side look to defend their Six Nations crown.

Ireland’s strength-in-depth is such that a number of in-form players have missed out on selection - but Schmidt has found room for three uncapped backs.

The Connacht trio of Caolin Blade, Jack Carty and Tom Farrell have all made the provisional squad for next month’s tournament - on the back of fine domestic form and, in Blade’s case, injury.

Here is a look at the three men who have earned their first call-ups for the Six Nations.

Tom Farrell

The Ireland centre cupboard is currently overflowing with talent so it is a testament to Tom Farrell’s form that he has been able to force his way into the international reckoning. Having come through the Leinster academy Farrell moved to England in 2016, joining London Irish and then the Bedford Blues. He returned to Ireland with Connacht at the start of 2017, going on to form a fine partnership with Bundee Aki. Farrell has flourished in the 2018-19 season, and has a sleight of hand which belies his hefty 6 foot 3 frame - he currently tops the Pro14 offload charts with 22 and has beaten 37 defenders, the third highest in the league. Farrell is likely to challenge namesake Chris as back-up at 13 for Garry Ringrose.

Jack Carty

Ross Byrne delivered a fine performance deputising for Johnny Sexton as Leinster beat Toulouse in the fifth round of the Champions Cup and had looked a safe bet to be named as Schmidt’s third-choice outhalf. However, Jack Carty’s consistency for Connacht this season has seen him usurp his Leinster counterpart in the outhalf pecking order.

Jack Carty has been named in Ireland’s Six Nations squad ahead of Ross Byrne. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Jack Carty has been named in Ireland’s Six Nations squad ahead of Ross Byrne. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

This has arguably been a coming of age campaign for Carty, who at 26 now has ownership of the Connacht number 10 jersey. He tops the Pro14 charts for conversions with 24 and is third on penalties with 16 - no mean feat considering he plays his home games in the wild winds of Galway. He has also created seven tries - the second best in the league - highlighting his play-making prowess.

Caolin Blade

Caolin Blade’s inclusion in the Ireland squad is slightly fortuitous, with a serious injury to Luke McGrath opening the door for selection. However, Blade looks well-equipped to seize his opportunity, especially with question marks over the fitness of John Cooney and Connacht teammate Kieran Marmion.

Caolin Blade has been named in Ireland’s Six Nations squad following an injury to Luke McGrath. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Caolin Blade has been named in Ireland’s Six Nations squad following an injury to Luke McGrath. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Academy graduate Blade has played in each of Connacht’s 18 games this season, starting half of them, and is the Pro14’s third-highest passer with 645. Blade’s distribution is sharp, while his pace makes him a constant threat around the fringes. The accuracy of his kicking can be suspect but will only improve training alongside Conor Murray.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.