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Simon Zebo makes long-awaited return as Ireland squad for autumn internationals named


Simon Zebo is back in the Ireland squad. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Simon Zebo is back in the Ireland squad. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Simon Zebo is back in the Ireland squad. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Simon Zebo has been recalled to the Ireland squad for the first time since June 2017, as Andy Farrell has included uncapped Leinster duo Dan Sheehan and Ciaran Frawley for next month's Autumn Nations Series.

Robbie Henshaw misses out with a foot injury, as he continues his rehab programme under the supervision of the Ireland medical team.

Johnny Sexton, who picked up a hip issue last week, will captain the side, while Iain Henderson has been deemed fit enough following his recent hand injury, with James Ryan also named in the 38-man squad despite suffering another head knock last weekend.

Meanwhile, Farrell has named exciting Munster lock Thomas Ahern and talented versatile Leinster back Jamie Osborne as 'development players'.

Zebo's return means that he will end his international exile. The Cork native has not played for Ireland since his move to Racing 92, but having returned to Munster this season, Farrell has opted for him ahead of the November games against Japan, New Zealand and Argentina.

Six players, Robert Baloucoune, Harry Byrne, Gavin Coombes, James Hume, Tom O’Toole and Nick Timoney who won their first caps over the summer, have been included.

Byrne gets the nod ahead of his older brother Ross, Billy Burns and Jack Carty, despite the latter's fine early season form.

As expected, along with Sexton, Cian Healy, Keith Earls and Peter O'Mahony return following their summer off, while so too do Ireland's Lions Bundee Aki, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Tadhg Furlong, Henderson and Conor Murray.

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"It has been a short lead into this international window but that is the challenge, to get back up to speed quickly and build on the performances from the Six Nations and the Summer Tests,” Farrell said.

“This is the start of an exciting period for the group as we begin to build towards the Rugby World Cup in France.

“In September we got together and mapped out what was coming up in this window, the exciting fixtures that lay ahead in the next 12 months and beyond that the opportunities to improve as a group over the next five windows we will have together.

“In a few weeks’ time we will face an exciting and well coached Japan team who showed in July what a dangerous team they are. New Zealand dominated the Rugby Championship losing just one game while Argentina are battle hardened from playing the southern hemisphere’s Big 3 week in week out over the past two months.

“It would be fantastic to play in front of a full-house at the Aviva Stadium. We had small crowds back in for the games in July and even that made a huge difference to the team and the atmosphere in the stadium."

IRELAND Autumn Nations Series Squad 2021

Backs (18)

Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 31 caps

Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 1 cap

Harry Byrne (Leinster/Lansdowne) 1 cap

Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 24 caps

Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 3 caps

Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 25 caps

Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 93 caps

Ciaran Frawley (Leinster/UCD)*

Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 10 caps

James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap

Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 13 caps

Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 30 caps

James Lowe (Leinster) 6 caps

Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 5 caps

Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 89 caps

Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 34 caps

Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 99 caps CAPTAIN

Simon Zebo (Munster/Cork Constitution) 35 caps

Forwards (20)

Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 5 caps

Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 16 caps

Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 22 caps

Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 20 caps

Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps

Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 19 caps

Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 9 caps

Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 49 caps

Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 109 caps

Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 63 caps

Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 22 caps

Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 13 caps

Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 45 caps

Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 76 caps

Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 1 cap

Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps

James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps

Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne)*

Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap

Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 32 caps

*denotes uncapped player

Development Players

Thomas Ahern (Munster/Shannon)

Jamie Osborne (Leinster/Naas)

Autumn Nations Series 2021 Fixtures


Aviva Stadium , Saturday 6th November, 2021

IRELAND v New Zealand

Aviva Stadium , Saturday 13th November, 2021

IRELAND v Argentina

Aviva Stadium , Sunday 21st November, 2021

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