Joe Schmidt Name-Checks 25 Players Who Are Close To Ireland Selection

Jason Hennessy

Jason Hennessy

Jason is the editor here at RugbyLAD and a proud Limerick man.
Jason Hennessy

Close eye.

Head coach Joe Schmidt and his team today named a 38-man strong Ireland squad for the 2019 Six Nations with some very “tight calls” made according to the New Zealander.

Leinster’s Ross Byrne has been left out of the squad in favour of Connacht’s Jack Carty, while Dan Leavy is also not included, with Schmidt stating he could be selected later on in the tournament “once he’s fully fit”.

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Schmidt has called up three uncapped players in total – Carty, as well as Connacht teammates Tom Farrell and Caolin Blade. And in naming his squad Schmidt name checked no less than 25 players who he remains to keep tabs on, starting with the forwards.

“In the front row, Finlay Bealham was very close, as was Marty Moore, who is getting back to the form that saw him win 10 caps in the past and Stephen Archer was at his combative best in Gloucester at the weekend.” Schmidt said

Rob Herring is very unlucky as his performances for the National team have been first rate. Denis Buckley has done well for Connacht and the promising young loose heads Ed Byrne and Eric O’Sullivan have continued to impress.

Quinn Roux was very close to selection in the second row, which has become highly competitive with youngsters Gav Thornbury, Fineen Wycherley and Kieran Treadwell all impressing of late along with the experienced Billy Holland.

Even more competitive is the back row, where those selected could well be joined by Dan Leavy once he’s fully fit. 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.”

Ross Byrne is the big omission in the backs in what Schmidt calls an “incredibly tight call” to make. Other players who could come into the reckoning at a later stage are the likes of Rory Scannell, Adam Byrne and Mike Haley who have all impressed the Ireland boss.

“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.”

“Bundee Aki and a fresh and fully fit Robbie Henshaw squeeze out Rory Scannell, who was great for Munster last Friday, and Stu McCloskey, who continues to give Ulster gain line as well as defensive solidity.

“At outside centre Tom Farrell has forced his way into contention and Chris Farrell is working his way back to match fitness, improving week by week. We’re sure that Sam Arnold and Rory O’Loughlin will continue to improve and both have plenty of promise.”

“Adam Byrne and Dave Kearney were both very good against Toulouse. The Connacht outside backs have been consistently good; Mike Haley is growing into his role with Munster while we look forward to a fit again Darren Sweetnam gaining some game minutes over the coming weeks.”