Andy Farrell has sprung a surprise by leaving full-back Rob Kearney out of his first Ireland training squad, a 45-man group which will get together in Dublin later this week.
Leinster star Kearney will not be present when new coach Farrell hosts a “24-hour mid-season stocktake” in Dublin on December 22 and 23.
The 33-year-old, who has 95 Ireland caps, played for his country during their recent Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan, including in the heavy quarter-final defeat to New Zealand.
But Kearney has missed out on Farrell’s selection, which includes some top names along with a host of uncapped players.
Five of his uncapped Leinster team-mates are in the squad, Jamison Gibson-Park, Will Connors, Caelan Doris, Max Deegan and Ronan Kelleher.
Ulster duo Tom O’Toole and England-born Billy Burns also get the nod, along with Connacht scrum-half Caolin Blade.
The Ireland coaching group will host a 24hr mid-season stocktake at the IRFU’s High Performance Centre in Dublin across the 22nd and 23rd December ahead of a busy period of interprovincial and European fixtures. #TeamOfUs #ShoulderToShoulder pic.twitter.com/QK2CkEE6TU
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) December 16, 2019
“The next six weeks is the window for players to put their hands up for selection for our first squad, which will be named in late January ahead of the Six Nations,” Farrell said.
“We have limited opportunities across the busy provincial season to bring a broad group like this together, but this 24-hour window will allow us to plant a few seeds.
“It will also give the coaches a better insight into a few players who been performing consistently well for their provinces.”
Ulster prop Marty Moore returns to the fold having not played for Ireland in almost five years.
Leinster lock Devin Toner and Ulster number nine John Cooney are also back after former boss Joe Schmidt did not select them for the World Cup.
Jordi Murphy, Sean Cronin, Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion join Kearney in missing out on a place in the group.
John Ryan and Tadhg Beirne are both injured and not listed, but Johnny Sexton is included despite currently being out with a knee problem.
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