Uncapped O'Donoghue gets Ireland call-up
Munster's Jack O'Donoghue is the latest new face in Ireland's camp at Carton House, but Joe Schmidt has resisted the temptation to call up Stuart Olding or Garry Ringrose for the remaining SIx Nations games against Italy and Scotland.
The 22-year-old Waterford native is one of two uncapped players in the 35-man squad for the last two games along with Australian-born Connacht prop Finlay Bealham who remains in situ ahead of Tadhg Furlong, James Cronin and Dave Kilcoyne.
Thirty-four of the 35 squad members trained at Carton House yesterday, with Tommy O'Donnell sitting out the session after suffering a "stinger" to his shoulder when playing for Munster against Dragons on Saturday according to Ireland manager Mick Kearney.
Jared Payne trained and is likely to be available to start against the Italians on Saturday, which means Schmidt has a decision to make on whether to stick with the combination of Stuart McCloskey and Robbie Henshaw from Twickenham or bring the first-choice No 13 back into the team. Another option is to play Payne at full-back, but Schmidt has so far been reluctant to deploy the Kiwi in what many believe is his best position. In all likelihood, he will partner Henshaw in midfield.
It seems unlikely that O'Donoghue will come into the equation for Saturday's game given the back-row options available to Schmidt, with Jordi Murphy in from the cold.
With O'Donnell struggling, he looks likely to stick with CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier and Jamie Heaslip with Rhys Ruddock providing back-up, but could be tempted to bring Ultan Dillane into the fold from the start.
Ireland squad to face Italy and Scotland - Forwards: F Bealham (Connacht), R Best (Capt, Ulster), S Cronin (Leinster), U Dillane (Connacht), D Foley (Munster), C Healy (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster), J McGrath (Leinster), J Murphy (Leinster), T O'Donnell (Munster), J O'Donoghue (Munster), M Ross (Munster), R Ruddock (Leinster), D Ryan (Munster), CJ Stander (Munster), R Strauss (Leinster), D Toner (Leinster), J vd Flier (Leinster), N White (Connacht). Backs: K Earls (Munster), C Gilroy (Ulster), R Henshaw (Connacht), P Jackson (Ulster), R Kearney (Leinster), I Madigan (Leinster), K Marmion (Connacht), L Marshall (Ulster), S McCloskey (Ulster), F McFadden (Leinster), C Murray (Munster), J Payne (Ulster), E Reddan (Leinster), J Sexton (Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster), S Zebo (Munster).