5 Winners & 5 Losers Following Joe Schmidt’s Ireland Squad Announcement

Title defence.

Head coach Joe Schmidt yesterday afternoon named his Ireland squad for rounds one and two of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations, with a few surprise selection calls.

Uncapped Connacht trio Caolin Blade, Tom Farrell and Jack Carty have all earned call-ups, but Leinster duo Ross Byrne and Dan Leavy have been left out. Chris Farrell and Sean O’Brien are named however, after lengthy spells out injured.

Here are five winners and five losers from Schmidt’s selection.


Sean O’Brien.
Considering Dan Leavy was left out due to fitness concerns, O’Brien can consider himself fortunate to make the squad having not played much rugby in the last few months. There’s no doubting his ability, but the openside has been so injury prone the last couple of seasons, it’s strange to see him there and Leavy not. Needs to take his chance and get a run of games together and prove Schmidt made the right decision in selecting him over his teammate.

Tom Farrell.
The 25-year-old centre was playing Championship rugby in England around this time last year before Connacht came calling. He hasn’t looked back since and has been one of the star performers in the PRO14. Test rugby however is a completely different ball game so it’ll be interesting to see how he adapts when he eventually gets his chance.

Jack Carty.
A real surprise call here selecting the Connacht man over Leinster’s Ross Byrne. But there’s no denying Carty has been in excellent form for the western province this season. Schmidt has clearly seen enough to warrant a call-up, so it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on.

Caolin Blade.
A number of injuries have afford Caolin Blade a dream chance. The Connacht man would normally be fifth choice in the overall pecking order, but could find himself providing back-up for Conor Murray in the opener with England should John Cooney not recover in time. Massive opportunity for him.

Ultan Dillane.
The Connacht man has been overlooked in the last couple of squads with Schmidt instead calling up his provincial teammate Quinn Roux. But a recent return to form for Dillane has warranted a recall and another opportunity to show Schmidt what he’s made of.


Ross Byrne.
After his performance against Toulouse last weekend in Johnny Sexton’s absence, the Leinster outhalf must have thought he was a dead cert for the Irish squad. But he’ll have to bide his time and show Schmidt what he’s missing once again this weekend against Wasps with Sexton still out. No doubt his chance will come again.

Dan Leavy.
Arguably Ireland’s best player throughout the Six Nations last year, Leavy has been left out with Sean O’Brien and Josh van der Flier the opensides selected. Schmidt says it’s down to fitness, so Leavy just needs to focus on getting his body right and hopefully he will play a role later in the tournament.

Stephen Archer.
The Munster tighthead has managed to usurp John Ryan at provincial level, but so far has been unable to overthrow him at international lever. Archer is 30 now and has just two caps for Ireland. It appears his chances of wearing green again are slipping further away by the day.

Mike Haley.
The former Sale Sharks man has settled well with Munster, filling the void left by Simon Zebo. But his former teammate Will Addison has outshone him at Ulster, and has added versatility. Haley no doubt will be capped, but it’s looking more and more unlikely it will happen during this Rugby World Cup cycle.

The leftover Irish centres.
Once upon a time in Ireland, Schmidt couldn’t buy a centre for love or money. Jared Payne was converted from fullback to do a very able job, with even the likes of Keith Earls and Tommy Bowe slotting into the midfield following Brian O’Driscoll’s retirement. Now Schmidt has six very good centres to choose from in his squad, with a litany of talent banging on the door. Guys like Sam Arnold, Stuart McCloskey, Rory O’Loughlin, Dan Goggin and Rory Scannell are all waiting in the wings for their chance at wearing the famous green jersey.