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Sunday 25 August 2019

Eight players who were left frustrated after Joe Schmidt's World Cup training squad announcement

Quinn Roux (left), Simon Zebo (centre) and Stuart McCloskey (right).
Quinn Roux (left), Simon Zebo (centre) and Stuart McCloskey (right).
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

With 44 names listed in Joe Schmidt's World Cup training squad, there wasn't a whole lot of room for shocks or snubs - but it wouldn't be much fun if we didn't at least consider the different players who would have been left frustrated by today's IRFU missive.

The press release featured two points of interest alongside the men selected to form the next phase of Ireland's World Cup preparation: Sean O'Brien and Dan Leavy were the sole names listed as 'unavailable through injury', and Joe Schmidt reserves the right to add more bodies going forward.

With those parameters in place, here is who the Ireland head coach named in his initial squad:

Forwards (24)

Hookers: Rory Best, Sean Cronin, Rob Herring, Niall Scannell

Looseheads: Cian Healy, Dave Kilcoyne, Jack McGrath

Tightheads: Finlay Bealham, Tadhg Furlong, Andrew Porter, John Ryan

Second-rows: Tadhg Beirne, Ultan Dillane, Iain Henderson, Jean Kleyn, James Ryan, Devin Toner

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Back-rows: Jack Conan, Jordi Murphy, Tommy O’Donnell, Peter O’Mahony, Rhys Ruddock, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier

Backs (20)

Scrum-halves: John Cooney, Kieran Marmion, Luke McGrath, Conor Murray

Out-halves: Ross Byrne, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Johnny Sexton

Centres: Bundee Aki, Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose, Rory Scannell

Back three: Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Mike Haley, Dave Kearney, Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Jacob Stockdale.

44 is a Woodwardian squad size of '05 Lions proportions, but as well as 13 men being trimmed from that list, there will still be certain people who will be hoping to be the 'one or two' players Schmidt might ring up as we move towards Ireland's first of four warm-up games on August 10.

Here are eight players who might feel aggrieved at today's selection.

Simon Zebo

Zebo's exclusion is no surprise - but that doesn't mean that the Racing 92 star won't be annoyed that he hasn't been considered. Joe Schmidt closed the door on Zebo the moment his move to Paris was announced before the 2017 autumn tests, and although the 29-year-old has produced some great rugby since arriving in the Top 14, Schmidt has shown no sign of calling a halt to Ireland's unwritten rule around overseas selection. A series of ill-advised social media posts around certain Ireland defeats won't have helped his cause either.

Will Addison

The Ulster utility back quickly became a favourite of Joe Schmidt, having trained with the team during the 2018 summer tour in Australia before picking up his first cap just two months into his inaugural season in Ireland. However, a back injury has kept him out since before the Six Nations and he will face a race to be fit in time for the World Cup warm-up games. Certainly showed far more across his first campaign than Munster fullback - and fellow Sale Sharks alum - Mike Haley.

Quinn Roux

Another player who had his end-of-season hampered by injury, Roux will still be frustrated to have been leapfrogged by another South African in Munster's Jean Kleyn. Roux featured in four games during the Six Nations - including starts against Italy and Scotland - so is definitely still in contention for a call-up later in the summer, if he returns to full fitness.

Tom Farrell

Connacht centre Farrell was a surprise inclusion in the Six Nations squad after a stellar run of form but wasn't able to get any game-time in an area occupied by three world class options in Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki. The next two spots on the depth chart have been filled by Munster centre partners, Rory Scannell and Chris Farrell, which leaves the 26-year-old biding his team for international recognition.

Jamison Gibson-Park

Like Kleyn, Gibson-Park becomes Irish qualified later this year. There is serious competition at scrum-half though, and while the Kiwi's form deserves a cap, he will have to wait until Andy Farrell's tenure to make his international bow.

Ed Byrne

The uncapped Byrne would have represented a World Cup wildcard, but after squeezing Jack McGrath out of the Leinster match-day squad towards the end of the season, his name had emerged as a potential bolter.

Marty Moore

Like a number of people on this list, a troublesome injury late in the season seems to have scuppered some good work done earlier in the campaign. Will be keeping his phone on over the summer in case there are any injuries at tighthead.

Stuart McCloskey

A curious omission in terms of form, less curious given his chequered history of getting into Joe Schmidt squads. The Bangor Bulldozer was one of Ulster's best players in a season that saw them return to the knockout stages in both competitions, but it hasn't been enough to get McCloskey back in the Ireland squad.

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