Six Nations: Jack Carty makes Ireland squad ahead of Ross Byrne

Connacht outhalf has got the nod while Dan Leavy and Kieran Marmion also miss out

Connacht’s Jack Carty has been named in the Ireland Six Nations squad. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Connacht’s Jack Carty has been named in the Ireland Six Nations squad. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has opted for Connacht outhalf Jack Carty ahead of his Leinster counterpart Ross Byrne in announcing a 38-man squad for the first two rounds of Six Nations Championship that begins with a home game against England on Saturday, February 2nd.

The 26-year-old Carty, who recently signed a new contract with Connacht, has been in excellent form for his province this season but few would have expected him to usurp Byrne in joining Jonathan Sexton and Joey Carbery as the outhalves in the Ireland squad for the game against England and the trip to Scotland the following week.

Byrne won his first Ireland cap in November in Ireland’s victory over Italy in Chicago, coming on as a replacement and kicking two conversions before winning a second against the USA when replacing the injured Darren Sweetnam.

Roscommon born Carty, a former Ireland underage international, will link up with his provincial halfback partner Caolin Blade, also uncapped, who is one of three scrumhalves alongside, Conor Murray and John Cooney.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt said it was a very tight call in a hugely competitive position.

“Johnny Sexton is making good progress while Joey Carbery and Jack Carty have both performed consistently well so far this season,” Schmidt said.

“Ross Byrne is unlucky in an incredibly tight call. He is still definitely in our thinking and will continue to press for inclusion through the Six Nations and beyond, while Billy Burns has also fitted in really well for Ulster this season.

“Conor Murray is back but Luke McGrath’s knee injury against Toulouse is likely to rule him out of the Six Nations. Kieran Marmion is not too far away from returning but John Cooney will hopefully be back this weekend for Ulster. It’s a great opportunity for Caolin Blade to get into camp and compete for a spot.”

In the back row Dan Leavy is among those to miss out but Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt says the Leinster man will likely join up with the squad when he is fully fit.

“Those selected [in the backrow] could well be joined by Dan Leavy once he’s fully fit,” Schmidt said.

“Sean Reidy continues to be all action for Ulster and Tommy O’Donnell is starting to get back to top form as well after his recent return from injury. With a cohort of young players emerging, it will continue to keep plenty of pressure on the performances of the experienced back rowers who have been selected.”

Schmidt named three uncapped players, all from Connacht with centre Tom Farrell joining his provincial teammates Blade and Carty, while there is a recall for a fourth member of Andy Friend’s squad in secondrow Ultan Dillane.

Sean O’Brien (broken arm) and Iain Henderson (broken thumb), who haven’t played in a number of months have been included but Leavy (calf) and Kieran Marmion haven’t.

At a media briefing earlier in the week, Leinster confirmed that Leavy would be available for selection ahead of Sunday’s Champions Cup tie against Wasps on the proviso that he hit his markers in training. The same criteria applies to O’Brien. Marmion indicated on Monday that he was ready to return following minor surgery. Schmidt did explain that Leavy would rejoin the squad when fit.

Ireland Six Nations squad

Forwards (21)

Rory Best (Ulster/Banbridge) 113 caps (c)

Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 4 caps

Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 11 caps

Sean Cronin (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 65 caps

Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 11 caps

Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 28 caps

Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 84 caps

Iain Henderson (Ulster/Queens University) 42 caps

Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 24 caps

Jack McGrath (Leinster/St Marys College) 53 caps

Jordi Murphy (Ulster/Lansdowne) 26 caps

Sean O’Brien (Leinster/UCD) 52 caps

Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 52 caps (vc)

Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 11 caps

Rhys Ruddock (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 21 caps

James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 13 caps

John Ryan (Munster/Cork Constitution) 16 caps

Niall Scannell (Munster/Dolphin) 11 caps

CJ Stander (Munster/Shannon) 28 caps

Devin Toner (Leinster/Lansdowne) 63 caps

Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 13 caps

Backs (17)

Will Addison (Ulster/Enniskillen) 3 caps

Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 12 caps

Caolin Blade (Connacht/Galwegians) 0 caps

Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 16 caps

Jack Carty (Connacht/Buccaneers) 0 caps

Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 10 caps

John Cooney (Ulster/Terenure College) 4 caps

Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 72 caps

Chris Farrell (Munster/Young Munster) 3 caps

Tom Farrell (Connacht/TBC) 0 caps

Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 36 caps

Rob Kearney (Leinster/UCD) 87 caps

Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 9 caps

Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 67 caps

Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 17 caps

Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Marys College) 78 caps (vc)

Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 14 caps

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