Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan has named a powerful 32-man squad to take on the Boks, Wallabies and Pacific Islands in November.
Several key players have returned from injury including centre Gordon D’Arcy (shoulder), lock Malcolm O’Kelly (groin) and front-rankers John Hayes (ankle) and Simon Best (broken leg).
Stephen Ferris, Jamie Heaslip (both loose forwards), Paddy Wallace (flyhalf) and Luke Fitzgerald (wing) are the four new caps in the squad, while Tommy Bowe, Jerry Flannery and Johnny O’Connor were not considered for selection because of injury. The only notable ommision was that of veteran Munster No 8 Anthony Foley.
O’Sullivan said the form of Ireland’s provinces in the European Cup had made the selection process more difficult than usual.
“As always the squad is selected on form and with the provinces playing so well in the Heineken Cup, there were some very tough calls, particularly in the back five of the forwards,” said O’Sullivan.
“There were some great performances from so many players and there are several who were very unlucky not to make the cut.”
Ireland squad for November Tests:
Props: M Horan, J Hayes, S Best, B Young
Hookers: F Sheahan, R Best
Locks: P O’Connell, D O’Callaghan, M O’Kelly, M McCullough
Backrow: D Wallace, D Leamy, N Best, K Gleeson, J Heaslip, S Easterby, S Ferris
Scrumhalves: P Stringer, I Boss, E Reddan
Flyhalves: R O’Gara, J Staunton, P Wallace
Centres: G D’Arcy, B O’Driscoll, S Horgan
Wings: D Hickie, A Trimble, J Kelly, L Fitzgerald
Fullbacks: G Murphy, G Dempsey.
Not considered due to injury: T Bowe, J Flannery, J O’Connor.