Joe Schmidt announces team for Six Nations opener against Wales

Joe Schmidt announces team for Six Nations opener against Wales
Ireland’s Rory Best.  Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE

Joe Schmidt has named Ulster hooker Rory Best as his new captain for the Six Nations opener against Wales next month. Leinster number eight Jamie Heaslip has been named as vice-captain

Four uncapped players are among the squad: Munster’s CJ Stander, Connacht’s Ultan Dillane, Leinster’s Josh van der Flier and Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey.

Leinster props Cian Healy and Mike Ross are not featured.

“As always there were a number of tight decisions, especially with a number of players not being available to play in recent weeks. Stalwarts such as Mike Ross, Cian Healy and Chris Henry are all likely to return to play over the coming weeks and they, along with some of the other players not included will potentially return to the squad post these first two matches.

“There are a few new faces but at the same time we have resisted the temptation to include some of the very promising youngsters, allowing them a bit more time to develop as well as the opportunity of further game time with their provinces.

“With plenty of new personnel involved the Championship is going to be incredibly challenging and the players selected will know they will need to be at their best to be competitive.”

Players unavailable for selection due to long term injuries include Tommy Bowe, Iain Henderson, Peter O’Mahony and Dan Tuohy.

IRELAND 2016 RBS Six Nations Squad Round 1 & 2

Forwards (19)
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) – CAPTAIN
Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
James Cronin (Dolphin/Munster)
Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht)*
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster)
Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster)
Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Mike McCarthy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Martin Moore (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster)
Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Rhys Ruddock (St Mary’s College/Leinster)
Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
CJ Stander (Munster)*
Richardt Strauss (Old Wesley/Leinster)
Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster)*
Nathan White (Connacht)

Backs (16)
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster)
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster)
David Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster)
Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht)
Luke Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster)
Stuart McCloskey (Dungannon/Ulster)*
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
Jared Payne (Ulster)
Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Jonathan Sexton (St Mary’s College/Leinster)
Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
Simon Zebo (Cork Con/Munster)

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