Jimmy O’Brien earns maiden Ireland call-up as James Lowe also returns

All 14 players who were released to their provinces also return in build-up to Italy visit

James Lowe and the uncapped Jimmy O’Brien have been added to a 38-man Irish squad which will assemble at Carton House on Monday evening to begin preparations for next Sunday’s Six Nations game against Italy at the Aviva Stadium.

Lowe missed the opening two rounds due to a hamstring injury but confirmed his return to fitness with a long-range finish in Leinster’s bonus-point win over the Ospreys last Saturday while O’Brien has been rewarded for his fine form this season.

The 25-year-old availed of Lowe’s absence when scoring four tries in Leinster’s Champions Cup win away to Bath, having scored against Montpellier a week beforehand, and he can also cover fullback and midfield.

The 14 players who were released to play with their provinces return to the squad for the Italy match week – Jack Carty, Dave Heffernan (Connacht), Ryan Baird, Cian Healy, Jordan Larmour (Leinster), Craig Casey, Gavin Coombes, Dave Kilcoyne (Munster), Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Michael Lowry, Tom O’Toole, Nick Timoney and Kieran Treadwell (Ulster).


With Dave Heffernan having been called up as a replacement for Rob Herring, the Connacht man retains his place in light of Rónan Kelleher being ruled out for the remainder of the tournament. The only other casualty from the original squad is the hamstrung Keith Earls.

Meanwhile, Italy have confirmed that Benetton wing Ratuva Tavuyara and uncapped Grenoble fullback Ange Capuozzo have been ruled out of consideration for Sunday’s game after sustaining injuries while playing for their clubs over the weekend.

Although neither player has featured in either of Italy’s two matches so far, this further restricts the back three options for head coach Kieran Crowley, given the 19-year-old wing Tommaso Menoncello has been sidelined after becoming the youngest try-scorer in the championship since 1967 in their opening defeat by France.

The Azzurri are already without centre Luca Morisi and a large number of experienced forwards, including Sebastian Negri, Marco Fuser, Jake Polledri, Marco Riccioni, Riccardo Favretto, Simone Ferrari, and Johan Meyer.

Crowley has brought in three uncapped backs, Filippo Di Marco, Alessandro Forcucci and Ludovico Vaccari, from Italian club side Fiamme Oro Rugby, to train with his squad this week.

Ireland 37-man squad for Italy game


Hookers: Dave Heffernan (Connacht), Rob Herring (Ulster), Dan Sheehan (Leinster).

Props: Finlay Bealham (Connacht), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Dave Kilcoyne (Munster), Tom O'Toole (Ulster), Andrew Porter (Leinster).

Secondrows: Ryan Baird (Leinster), Tadhg Beirne (Munster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), James Ryan (Leinster), Kieran Treadwell (Ulster).

Backrows: Jack Conan (Leinster), Gavin Coombes (Munster), Caelan Doris (Leinster), Peter O'Mahony (Munster), Nick Timoney (Ulster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster).

BACKS (18)

Scrumhalves: Craig Casey (Munster), Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster).

Outhalves: Joey Carbery (Munster), Jack Carty (Connacht), Johnny Sexton (Leinster, capt).

Centres: Bundee Aki (Connacht), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), James Hume (Ulster), Garry Ringrose (Leinster).

Outside backs: Robert Baloucoune (Ulster), Andrew Conway (Munster), Mack Hansen (Connacht), Hugo Keenan (Leinster), Jordan Larmour (Leinster), James Lowe (Leinster), Michael Lowry (Ulster), Jimmy O'Brien (Leinster).

Italy squad


Hookers: Epalahame Faiva (Benetton), Gianmarco Lucchesi (Benetton), Giacomo Nicotera (Benetton)

Props: Pietro Ceccarelli (Brive), Danilo Fischetti (Zebre), Ivan Nemer (Benetton), Tiziano Pasquali (Benetton), Cherif Traorè (Benetton), Giosuè Zilocchi(Zebre)

Secondrows: Niccolò Cannone (Benetton), Federico Ruzza (Benetton), David Sisi (Zebre), Andrea Zambonin (Zebre).

Backrows: Renato Giammarioli (Zebre), Toa Halafihi (Benetton), Michele Lamaro (Benetton, capt), Giovanni Pettinelli (Benetton), Braam Steyn (Benetton), Manuel Zuliani (Benetton).

BACKS (12)

Scrumhalves: Callum Braley (Benetton), Alessandro Fusco (Zebre), Stephen Varney (Gloucester).

Outhalves: Paolo Garbisi (Montpellier), Leonardo Marin (Benetton).

Centres:: Juan Ignacio Brex (Benetton), Enrico Lucchin (Zebre), Marco Zanon (Benetton).

Outside Backs: Pierre Bruno (Zebre), Montanna Ioane (Benetton), Federico Mori (Bordeaux), Edoardo Padovani (Benetton).