Joe Schmidt names 26-strong Ireland squad for Chicago trip
Johnny Sexton among those rested for the clash with Italy at Soldier Field next week
Tadhg Furlong travels to Chicago for Ireland’s test against Italy. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
A relatively inexperienced Irish squad of 26 players and back-up staff flew to Chicago on Monday in the countdown to next Saturday’s meeting with Italy at Soldier Field (kick-off 3pm local time, 8pm Irish time) although there is a still a fair sprinkling of experience in its ranks.
Irish captain Rory Best, vice-captains Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony, along with senior figures such as CJ Stander, Ro Kearney and Keith Earls have remained in Ireland, and thus seem likely to start against Argentina in the first of the Guinness Series.
The uncapped duo of Ross Byrne and Will Addison are among those travelling, although a little surprisingly Lions tight-head Tadhg Furlong is included, as is Devin Toner as well as Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose.
Whereas Conor O’Shea took the unusual step of announcing his match-day 23 last week, and a starting XV that shows a dozen changes from their last outing, a win in Japan, Joe Schmidt will not unveil his hand until Thursday.
In the absence of the captain and two vice captains, Rhys Ruddock would seem a likely candidate to captain the side, as he did on the three-match tour of the USA and Japan in June of last year, and at home to Fiji last November.
Ireland squad for Chicago - Forwards (15): Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht), Tadhg Beirne (Munster), Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster),Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster), Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 50, Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Ulster), Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster), Quinn Roux (Galwegians/Connacht), Rhys Ruddock (St Mary’s College/Leinster), James Ryan (UCD/Leinster), Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster).
Backs (11): Will Addison (Enniskillen/Ulster) *, Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht), Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster) *, Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster), Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster), John Cooney (Terenure College/Ulster), Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster), Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Darren Sweetnam (Cork Constitution/Munster).
* Denotes uncapped player