5 Talking Points From Ireland’s Six Nations Squad
Joe Schmidt and his Ireland team today named a 40-man squad that includes three uncapped players for the opening two rounds of the 2017 RBS 6 Nations Championship.
Ireland travel to both Edinburgh and Rome over the course of first two rounds of this year’s Championship facing the Scots in Murrayfield on Saturday 4th February before flying to Rome to take on Conor O’Shea’s Italian side on Saturday 11th February.
Munster’s form in both Europe and the PRO12 hasn’t gone unnoticed with all three uncapped players coming from the southern province.
Here are five talking points from the reveal.
A sea of red.
Joe Schmidt has named no less than 13 Munster players in his squad. There’s returns for the likes of Tommy O’Donnell and Dave Kilcoyne, while Billy Holland and John Ryan also retain their spot in the squad. The usual suspects in the form of Murray, Zebo, Stander, Ryan and O’Mahony are in the squad, along with uncapped trio Niall Scannell, Rory Scannell and Andrew Conway.
Tommy Bowe is back.
The Ulster winger is back in an Irish squad for the first time since the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The former Lions star missed last season with a devastating knee injury picked up at the World Cup, but has returned to form with Ulster, and is rewarded with a spot in the squad.
Schmidt has gone with just Paddy Jackson and Johnny Sexton at ten in the absence of the injured Joey Carberry. The likes of Ian Madigan and Jack Carty have been overlooked, and with only Jackson to back up Sexton, Schmidt must be confident the Leinster star will be fit and ready next month.
Stuart McCloskey has been one of the few shining lights at Ulster this season, after a disappointing campaign. The centre was overlooked in recent squads, but has been given another chance by Schmidt to make an impact on the international scene.
Connacht fans will be disappointed.
The western province have the likes of Ultan Dillane, Finlay Bealham and Tiernan O’Halloran in the squad, but there’s no room for the likes of Jack Carty, Matt Healy and Niyi Adeolokun. You can’t really blame Schmidt at the same time as competition for places is at an all-time high.
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