Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has named three uncapped players, all from Munster, in his squad of 40 for the opening two games of the RBS 6 Nations.
Munster trio Niall Scannell, Rory Scannell and Andrew Conway are all in line to earn their first caps for Ireland for the first games against Scotland and Italy.
Impressive All three have been rewarded for a string of impressive performances for Munster with Conway in particular shining in his provinces’ weekend Champions Cup victory over Racing 92.
Niall Scannell is named in the forwards and is one of the three uncapped players in the squad. Scannell captained the Ireland U- 20s at the Junior World Championship in 2012 leading them to the semi final.
That U-20 squad also included the likes of Tadgh Furlong, Iain Henderson, Jack Conan and Luke McGrath who are all also named in the Ireland squad. Conway, who featured for the Ireland Wolfhounds in 2015 and Rory Scannell, brother of Niall, are the uncapped players named amongst the 18 backs in the squad.
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.
Ireland Head Coach Joe Schmidt said: “It has been good to watch the players over the past two months and great to see many of them doing so well.
“As always there were some difficult decisions but we feel that the group is a good mix with a number of key players having good experience and a number of newer players having gained valuable experience and confidence during the summer tour to South Africa and the recent Guinness Series.”
Ireland Squad 2017 RBS 6 Nations Rnds 1 & 2
Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht) 6 caps
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) (c) 100 caps
Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 1 cap
Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht) 8 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 11 caps
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 62 caps
Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster) (vc) 91caps
Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 28 caps
Billy Holland (Cork Constitution/Munster) 1 cap
Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 17 caps
Dan Leavy (UCD/Leinster) 1 cap
Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 36 caps
Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster) 44 caps
Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster) 12 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Con/Munster) 37 caps
Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster) 43 caps
John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 1 cap
Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) *
CJ Stander (Munster) 10 caps
Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 42 caps
James Tracy (UCD/Leinster) 1 cap
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 5 caps
Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) 67 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster) *
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 54 caps
Craig Gilroy (Bangor/Ulster) 9 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 24 caps
Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster) 19 caps
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 72 caps
Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht) 9 caps
Luke Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster) 9 caps
Stuart McCloskey (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 1 cap
Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 1 cap
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 53 caps
Tiernan O’Halloran (Buccaneers/Connacht) 3 caps
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 3 caps
Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) *
Jonathan Sexton (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 63 caps
Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster) 69 caps
Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster) 28 caps
*Denotes uncapped player
Last weekend Munster and Leinster earned themselves home quarter-final places in the Champions Cup, but each has a very different path ahead.