Picking A 38-Man Ireland Squad For The Six Nations Ahead Of Tomorrow’s Big Reveal

Some big decisions to make.

Joe Schmidt is set to name his 2018 Six Nations squad tomorrow morning, as he sets his sights on stopping Eddie Jones from winning an unprecedented third championship in-a-row with England.

Ireland are probably in the best shape they’ve ever been squad-wise under Schmidt, with huge competition in almost every position. After a hugely successful November series, with a number of young stars shining, Schmidt has some big decisions to make ahead of his squad unveil.

The Ireland head coach named a 38-man squad initially for the November series, so we’re gonna take a stab using that model for the Six Nations, and we’ve made some big calls.

Jared Payne likely won’t be considered due to his ongoing injury problems, the same goes for Niall Scannell, who recently damaged his ribs while playing for Munster. Garry Ringrose is also set to miss at least the opening two rounds with an ankle problem, so we’ve left him out of our initial squad.

In terms of the forwards, and hooking options to be specific, we’ve gone for Sean Cronin to earn a recall, who is no doubt playing better rugby than his teammate James Tracy at the moment, who’s also an injury worry. We’ve also brought Josh van der Flier back into the squad, but Tommy O’Donnell retains his spot due to his versatility, with Rhys Ruddock ruled out.

Another interesting one we’ve gone with is drafting in Tadhg Beirne early. The Scarlets lock has signed on for Munster next season, and with Zebo being exiled (and likely not to be recalled) before he leaves, why can’t Beirne be drafted in before he arrives? His form this season for Scarlets shows he can add some serious value to the current set-up. Kieran Treadwell is the man to make way.

In the backs, we’ve made some big decisions here. In comes Tiernan O’Halloran and Leinster prodigy Jordan Lamour, with Adam Byrne and Dave Kearney losing out from November. Larmour might be looked at as more of a wing option, rather than fullback due to his inexperience. Either way, with the back-three players selected, Schmidt would have plenty of options, with a number of them comfortable at 15 or on the wing. If Larmour or O’Halloran don’t make the squad, we could see Schmidt’s old favourite Fergus McFadden brought in, who’s been in impressive form of late. Tommy Bowe is injured, and Andrew Trimble isn’t playing well enough for a recall.

We’ve also made a big call in the halfbacks, with Marmion losing his place in the squad to Ulster’s in-form John Cooney. Luke McGrath will likely serve as back-up to Murray. In the centres, Stuart McCloskey and Chris Farrell and retained along with Henshaw and Aki who will likely start together against France.

Possible Ireland Six Nations 2018 Squad

Backs (17):

Bundee Aki (Connacht)
Tiernan O’Halloran (Connacht)
Joey Carbery (Leinster)
Andrew Conway (Munster)
Keith Earls (Munster)
Chris Farrell (Munster)
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster)
Jordan Larmour (Leinster)
Rob Kearney (Leinster)
Ian Keatley (Munster)
John Cooney (Ulster)
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster)
Luke McGrath (Leinster)
Conor Murray (Munster)
Jonathan Sexton (Leinster)
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster)
Darren Sweetnam (Munster)

Forwards (21):

Rory Best (Ulster) (Captain)
Jack Conan (Leinster)
Ultan Dillane (Connacht)
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster)
Cian Healy (Leinster)
Iain Henderson (Ulster)
Rob Herring (Ulster)
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster)
Dan Leavy (Leinster)
Jack McGrath (Leinster)
Sean O’Brien (Leinster)
Josh van der Flier (Leinster)
Peter O’Mahony (Munster)
Andrew Porter (Leinster)
Tommy O’Donnell (Munster)
James Ryan (Leinster)
John Ryan (Munster)
CJ Stander (Munster)
Devin Toner (Leinster)
Sean Cronin (Leinster)
Tadhg Beirne (Scarlets/Munster)

What do you think? Where would you make changes? Let us know in the comments.

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