Andy Farrell has named Ireland’s squad for the Six Nations, and it must be said that it is a very strong selection of players which should excite Irish fans.
However, Ireland squad selections are never without at least a little bit of controversy, and there are some players who have been unlucky to miss out, while others will be very thankful to have been included.
We’ve identified four players whose efforts have been well rewarded with an international call-up, as well as four players who must have come agonisingly close to being included.
The Ulsterman has been in sensational form for his province recently, and was named as the man of the match in last weekend’s win against Northampton Saints, in a performance which may have been crucial to his Ireland call-up.
Lowry certainly isn’t big for a professional rugby player, standing at 1.7 m (5 ft 7in) and weighing in at 76 kg (12 st) but he has electric feet and explosive pace, and is a similar style of player to South Africa’s Cheslin Kolbe.
The 23-year-old plays primarily at full back, although he can also play as a fly-half, and is an excellent defender despite his small stature.
Connacht stalwart Carty has 10 Ireland caps to his name, but the upcoming Six Nations will be something of a second international debut for the Athlone man, having last played for his country at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
It could be argued that Carty was hard done by in not being selected for the Autumn Nations Series, but he has maintained his good form for Connacht since then and has earned an international recall in doing so.
Carty is one of three fly-halves selected, alongside Johnny Sexton and the currently injured Joey Carbery, so it looks very likely that the Connacht man will be named on the bench in Ireland’s opening fixture against Wales.
Jack Carty was on a mission for @connachtrugby yesterday ?
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 20, 2021
Australian-born Connacht winger Hansen has been a try-scoring sensation for the province so far and looks primed to test his skills on the international stage.
Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie was rumoured to be interested in capping Hansen, after Australia relaxed their eligibility rules, but the 23-year-old looks set to commit to Ireland, who he qualifies for through his Cork-born mother.
Hansen was actually a late call-up to Ireland’s squad in the Autumn Nations Series but didn’t win a cap, but he has a great opportunity of making his international debut in the Six Nations, especially in the absence of James Lowe.
Perhaps the most surprising inclusion in the squad, Ulster lock Treadwell has reaped the benefits of his recent good form for his province and has been granted another opportunity at international level.
Treadwell has won three caps for Ireland, all of which came in 2017, but at the age of 26 the English-born second row has plenty of time to reignite his international career.
Although Treadwell is likely the fifth-choice lock, behind James Ryan, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Beirne and Ryan Baird, there is every chance he’ll find himself back in a green jersey.
At the age of 20 Doak has all the time in the world to break into the Ireland squad, but the young Ulsterman is unlucky to have missed out, off the back of his performances this season.
First-choice Ulster scrum-half John Cooney has featured quite little this season due to injury, but Doak has stepped up tremendously and is a remarkably well-rounded player for his age.
Craig Casey has been selected ahead of Doak in Ireland’s Six Nations squad, although it would be very hard to argue that the Munster scrum-half has been playing better than the Ulsterman in recent times.
A brilliant @UlsterRugby try ?
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) January 16, 2022
Another scrum-half who was unlucky to have missed out, Marmion’s international exile will continue despite his return to form with Connacht.
Marmion hasn’t played for Ireland since November 2020, and became embroiled in a battle with Caolin Blade for Connacht’s number nine jersey, but he has re-established himself as his province’s first-choice scrum-half in recent times.
At 29, Marmion has plenty left to give, and has a lot of international experience behind him having won 28 caps for Ireland, which includes a start in the win against the All Blacks in 2018.
The victim of a tough competition for places at centre, Frawley was unable to convince Farrell to call him up for a second time, having been included in Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series squad.
Frawley didn’t manage to win a cap for Ireland in November despite his inclusion in the squad, and he will have to wait another while before his international debut, as the impressive James Hume was selected ahead of him.
The young inside centre, who can also play fly-half, has had limited opportunities to impress, as Leinster have played just once in over a month due to Covid-related reasons, and he will need to continue to stand out for his province.
A very consistent performer for Munster, Haley’s efforts have gone unrewarded by the Ireland coaching team, as his two-and-a-half year wait for a second Ireland cap goes on.
There have been precious few opportunities for Munster’s back line players to impress in recent weeks, but Haley has taken plenty of those chances, as he has shown he is a reliable pair of hands as well as being capable of the odd flash of attacking brilliance.
Hugo Keenan is Ireland’s clear first-choice full back, although the pecking order is far from obvious behind the Leinster man, but Lowry has beaten Haley to the punch on this occasion.