Tuesday 20 August 2019

Joe Schmidt names two uncapped players in World Cup training squad

Joe Schmidt has named a 44-man training squad for the Rugby World Cup
Joe Schmidt has named a 44-man training squad for the Rugby World Cup
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Munster second-row Jean Kleyn and full-back Mike Haley are the two uncapped players in Ireland's World Cup training squad.

Joe Schmidt has made a number of big calls in the 44-man panel who will begin preparations for the tournament on June 16.

Although it had been previously reported that Kleyn qualifies to play for Ireland in September, independent.ie understands that he arrived in Ireland on or around August 8, 2016 and should be available for all of the warm-up games under World Rugby's three-year residency law.

His inclusion means his compatriot Quinn Roux is a surprise omission after his heavy involvement in the Six Nations.

Jean Kleyn (centre) in Heineken Champions Cup semi-fnal action for Munster against Saracens at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, England last month. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Jean Kleyn (centre) in Heineken Champions Cup semi-fnal action for Munster against Saracens at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, England last month. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Roux was not listed as unavailable in the IRFU press release that accompanied the squad, but he didn't feature in Connacht's run-in due to a virus.

Schmidt gave a brief statement as part of the release and said that players may be added at a later date, with Will Addison another who, like Roux, missed a large chunk of the end of the season who may feature at some point during the warm-ups.

Haley is the big winner from that selection as the English-born, Irish qualified full-back gets the nod having not featured in any Irish squads all season.

He squeezes out Adam Byrne, another who finished the campaign injured, and Darren Sweetnam as Dave Kearney earns a recall to the squad after finishing the season strong.

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Stuart McCloskey is another who could come in if injuries strike, but loses out to Munster's Rory Scannell whose versatility in covering out-half could be a factor when it comes down to selecting 31 players to go to Japan. Connacht's Tom Farrell also misses out having been part of the Six Nations squad, as does scrum-half Caolin Blade.

Leinster's Jamison Gibson-Park also doesn't make the cut, despite the fact he qualifies to play for Ireland before the tournament. Schmidt has gone with four out-halves and four scrum-halves, with Conor Murray guaranteed to go with Kieran Marmion, John Cooney and Luke McGrath battling it out.

Devin Toner makes the cut despite his knee injury which is expected to keep him out of the early weeks of pre-season, while Munster's Tommy O'Donnell is back after three years in the international wilderness. Marty Moore, however, has not made the cut despite his performances for Ulster.

His inclusion is reflective of the injuries to opensides Seán O'Brien and Dan Leavy and he gets the nod ahead of Ulster's Sean Reidy, Nick Timoney and his Munster team-mate Jack O'Donoghue as well as potential bolters Max Deegan and Scott Penny.

Schmidt has continued his unofficial policy of not picking players based abroad, which means Ian Madigan, Simon Zebo and Donnacha Ryan don't make the cut.

"The provinces have done a great job throughout the season with all four of them being involved in two sets of play-offs," he said.

"There were some very close calls in selection and it's always a challenging process because the coaching group are very conscious of how hard the players work.

"It's ideal that they get a good opportunity to relax for a few weeks before getting stuck into pre-season training and  busy ‘Summer Series' in the lead up to the World Cup.

"Some players have missed out through injury and there are one or two guys that may be added into the squad at a later stage."

Ireland's first warm-up game is against Italy in Dublin on August 10, before they travel to Portugal for a training camp and then take on England away on August 24 and Wales away on August 31. They finish against Wales at home on September 7, before finalising the 31-man squad and travelling to Japan.

Ireland’s 44-man pre-World Cup training 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

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.

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