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Best named captain for summer Tests against USA and Canada

IRELAND'S most unlucky Lion Rory Best will have the compensation of captaining Ireland on their two-Test tour to North America next month.

There have been a total of 28 players chosen by interim coach Les Kiss, in consultation with incoming coach Joe Schmidt, with six potential new caps.

"For the North America tour, we have selected a squad who I believe have the right mix of youth and experience," said Kiss yesterday.

"I'm really looking forward to working with them over the next few weeks. USA and Canada have improved enormously since the 2011 Rugby World Cup and we know we will be in for two tough Test matches."

Balbriggan tight-head Jamie Hagan has completed a dramatic elevation in form, recovering from the mid-season decision to move to London Irish this summer when he looked to be on borrowed time at Leinster.

Since then, Hagan has skipped ahead of Michael Bent as the main alternative to Mike Ross in one of the two most coveted positions in Irish rugby.

Ulster's Stuart Olding has been moved from the Ireland U20 World Cup squad into the senior ranks on the evidence of his outstanding form for Ulster this season.



Last year's Ireland U20 Robbie Henshaw and Kieron Marmion have been rewarded for their consistency in big-time Heineken Cup matches for Connacht.

Munster's player of the year Tommy O'Donnell has hit the heights, with his athleticism and physicality making him a frontrunner for the back row, hooker Mike Sherry also catching the eye.

Meanwhile, Leinster's Rhys Ruddock will lead the 26-man Emerging Ireland squad out to the Tbilisi Cup in Georgia.

"The Georgian tour will be a great experience for the players, most of whom have recently come through the Ireland underage system," said Kiss. "It will be a tough tour with three games in 14 days and a smaller squad of 26 players, which should mean everyone getting significant game time."

Ireland 28-Man Squad to play USA & Canada: R Best (capt), I Boss, D Cave, T Court, D Fitzpatrick, J Hagan*, I Henderson, C Henry, R Henshaw*, P Jackson, F Jones, D Kilcoyne, I Madigan, K Marmion*, P Marshall*, M McCarthy, F McFadden, K McLaughlin, T O'Donnell*, S Olding*, P O'Mahony, M Ross, M Sherry*, R Strauss, D Toner, A Trimble, D Tuohy, S Zebo.

Emerging Ireland 26-Man Squad (Tbilisi Cup, Georgia): M Allen*, M Bent, A Conway*, J Cooney*, S Cronin, D Foley*, E Griffin*, C Marsh*, M Heaney*, R Herring*, D Kearney*, I Keatley, R Lutton*, B Macken*, J McGrath*, E McKeon*, M Moore*, N Morris*, J Murphy*, I Nagle*, R Diack*, T O'Halloran*, R Ruddock (capt), D Ryan*, J Ryan*, L Stevenson*.

*denotes uncapped player

Players not considered due to injury: S Ferris, E Reddan, L Fitzgerald, G D'Arcy, L Marshall, D McSharry, K Earls, S Archer.