Dillane can be a huge success for Schmidt
It's crazy to think that the Six Nations is just around the corner now, and there were some interesting inclusions in Joe Schmidt's extended training squad this week, writes Johnny O'Connor.
The World Cup heartache is a distant memory and with the upturn in fortunes for Leinster and Munster last weekend, and with Connacht and Ulster also around the top of the Pro12, it bodes well for the upcoming tournament.
Players like Garry Ringrose and Stuart McCloskey are likely to be there or thereabouts in 2016 and it's a real positive for Irish rugby to be able to add a few more strings to the bow.
Luke Fitzgerald has been in red-hot form too, and with Robbie Henshaw on the way back from injury there is some serious depth at centre going forward.
For many, one of the most surprising calls was the inclusion of Connacht lock Ultan Dillane but I feel he has a big future ahead of him, and this was coming.
He has been fantastic in his first couple of seasons involved with the Connacht senior squad and it's great to see that Schmidt is not afraid to add a bit of the unknown to the national set-up.