Irish coach Joe Schmidt has picked his first Ireland squad for the upcoming November series and it’s a strong squad, barring injuries. The most notable omissions are wingers Luke Fitzgerald and Andrew Trimble. On the plus side there’s a call-up for Leinster’s Dave Kearney and, with the absence of Fitzgerald and Trimble, it may be a first cap for Kearney.
Forwards: Stephen Archer, Rory Best, James Coughlan, Tom Court, Sean Cronin, Declan Fitzpatrick, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Chris Henry, Mike McCarthy, Jack McGrath, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony, Mike Ross, Mike Sherry, Devin Toner, Dan Tuohy.
Backs: Isaac Boss, Tommy Bowe, Gordon D’Arcy, Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Paddy Jackson, David Kearney, Rob Kearney, Ian Madigan, Luke Marshall, Fergus McFadden, Conor Murray, Brian O’Driscoll, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton.
It’s unknown whether Brian O’Driscoll will be fit for the 3 tests so Keith Earls may take his position at 13. That would leave one of the wing positions open for Kearney, the other wing is likely to be Tommy Bowe.
Most of the injuries are in the forwards, with Richard Strauss and Stephen Ferris being the big losses. The provinces are doing very well at the moment and some of the players are in great form, especially Sean O’Brien and Jaimie Heaslip. Ireland should have a very strong team for the series.
The first game is against Samoa (Nov 7th). This would give Schmidt a chance to look at players in an international set-up before the matches against Australia and New Zealand. Though Samoa cannot be underestimated I would rest the top players so they’re in better shape for the tougher games