Downey and Coughlan set to miss out as Ireland look to 2015
Henshaw to edge out Jones for place on North American tour, says Brendan FanningLes Kiss will today announce a 28-man squad for next month's Tests in the US and Canada, hoping that he might lose a couple of bodies before they leave.
Like Rory Best and Mike Ross. Both front-rowers would have hoped to make the Lions squad for Australia, and neither will give up hope of getting on a plane Down Under until the Lions are getting on a plane to come home.
Filling in the picture will not have been as straightforward as subtracting the nine Irish Lions and slotting in the last men to have worn those jerseys.
Take Michael Bent, for example. If there was controversy over the speed with which he was dressed in green on arrival from New Zealand, then there is disbelief that he does not look out of place on Leinster's 'A' team – as in, he had no chance of moving up, whatever about further back.
So Leinster have been picking Jamie Hagan ahead of him and Hagan is off to London Irish after two ultimately unsuccessful stints in blue. He is a certainty to go to North America.
Those likely to get bad news may well be the Munster trio of James Downey, Ian Keatley and James Coughlan. Having been so close to getting capped during the injury crisis in the Six Nations, it will be cruel if Coughlan doesn't make the trip, but while this tour is about putting the strongest available squad in the field, it's also about the World Cup in 2015, and neither Downey nor Coughlan will be on that list.
As for Keatley, there is nothing to suggest Paddy Jackson is ahead of him in the form book, but the fact that he is already in the senior system will be enough.
The key decisions are at fullback and in the back row. Felix Jones has had his fair share of woes but his performance against Clermont was perfectly timed. Robbie Henshaw, on the other hand, has been very good all season. Henshaw deserves the spin.
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And in the back row, Leinster team-mates Kevin McLaughlin and Rhys Ruddock are scrambling for the last seat on the plane. We have always been big fans of Ruddock in this parish, but McLaughlin's display against Glasgow last weekend was his best of the season. Their game time with Leinster is almost identical, but Joe Schmidt has leaned more towards McLaughlin when it matters and you'd imagine Kiss might do the same.
Potential squad – Backs: R Henshaw; A Trimble, C Gilroy, S Zebo; D Cave, F McFadden, S Olding; I Madigan, P Jackson, I Boss, P Marshall, K Marmion; Forwards: T Court, D Kilcoyne, M Ross, J Hagan, D Fitzpatrick; R Best (capt), R Strauss, M Sherry; M McCarthy, D Toner, D Tuohy; K McLaughlin, P O'Mahony,
I Henderson, C Henry, T O'Donnell.