Wednesday 19 December 2018

REVEALED - Bundee Aki among four uncapped players in Joe Schmidt's squad but Simon Zebo is axed

Simon Zebo and Bundee Aki
Simon Zebo and Bundee Aki Newsdesk Newsdesk

Munster's Simon Zebo has not been included in Joe Schmidt's Ireland squad for next month's autumn internationals after revealing earlier this week that he would be leaving the province.

Under unwritten IRFU rules, players based within the four provinces are given preference over those who ply their trade overseas and although Zebo will be at Munster until the end of the season, Schmidt has opted not to use him in the games against Fiji, South Africa and Argentina.

He is expected to join Ronan O'Gara and Donnacha Ryan at Racing 92 at the end of the season.

The Leinster pair of Joey Carbery and Rob Kearney now look like the front-runners for the number 15 jersey but Connacht's Tiernan O'Halloran also misses out on selection.

Earlier today, Ireland, Leinster and Lions flanker Sean O'Brien said he believed that an exception to the exclusion rule would be made for Zebo, as it was for Johnny Sexton when he moved to Paris in 2013.

"Some like Zeebs is so talented, he has that bit of X-factor," O'Brien told RTÉ Radio 1’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

"I still think he’ll definitely be called upon in my eyes.

"He has a young family now and he’s at that point where I suppose you make life decisions about what you want to do going forward.

"I can see why he’s going so it’s his decision at the end of the day.

"It’s probably a [strange] time...coming into a World Cup year but I understand fully that players have to make the best of it with the time we have as professionals."

The four uncapped players in the 38-man squad are newly-qualified Bundee Aki, Leinster winger Adam Byrne, Munster centre Chris Farrell and former Cork hurler Darren Sweetnam.

Aki has been included after qualifying through the three-year residency rule.

Leinster 56-times capped hooker Sean Cronin and Ulster's Luke Marshall are other notable absentees.

Schmidt is without injured stars Jamie Heaslip, Garry Ringrose, Josh van der Flier and Niall Scannell, while Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding’s enforced absence continues as they await trial on rape charges.

Ireland face South Africa (Nov 11), Fiji (Nov 18) and Argentina (Nov 25) at the Aviva Stadium next month.

Ireland Squad - Guinness Series 2017


Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) Captain104 caps

Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 4 caps

Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht) 10 caps

Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 16 caps

Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 70 caps

Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 32 caps

Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 1 cap

Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 20 caps

Dan Leavy (UCD/Leinster) 4 caps

Jack McGrath (St Mary's College/Leinster) 41 caps

Sean O'Brien (UCD/Leinster) 49 caps

Tommy O'Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster) 12 caps

Peter O'Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 40 caps

Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 2 caps

Rhys Ruddock (St Mary's College/Leinster) 16 caps

James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 2 caps

John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 9 caps

CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 15 caps

Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 50 caps

James Tracey (UCD/Leinster) 4 caps

Kieran Treadwell (Ballymena/Ulster) 2 caps


BACKS (17)

Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) uncapped

Adam Byrne (UCD/Leinster) uncapped

Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Leinster) 4 caps

Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 3 caps

Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 62 caps

Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) uncapped

Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 29 caps

Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster) 16 caps

Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 76 caps

Ian Keatley (Young Munster/Munster) 5 caps

Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht) 16 caps

Stuart McCloskey (Bangor/UIster) 1 cap

Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 4 caps

Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 57 caps

Johnny Sexton (St Mary's College/Leinster) 66 caps

Jacob Stockdale (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) 2 caps

Darren Sweetnam (Cork Constitution/Munster) uncapped

2017 Guinness Series Fixtures

IRELAND v South Africa

Saturday 11th November, KO 17.30

Aviva Stadium, Dublin



Saturday 18th November, KO 17.30

Aviva Stadium, Dublin


IRELAND v Argentina

Saturday 25th November, KO 17.30

Aviva Stadium, Dublin


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