Ireland coach Joe Schmidt named his 34-man squad for the upcoming November internationals on Wednesday with New Zealand, Australia and Canada next month with a host of established veterans and promising young players excluded from the Kiwi’s autumn plans.
Schmidt’s squad comprises 16 Leinster players, nine from Munster, seven from Ulster and just three from last season’s champions, Connacht.
Schmidt’s selections have caused a stir among Irish fans, particularly with the picking of some of his former Leinster players, most notably Rob Kearney and Jordi Murphy, and as a result, we’ve pinned an omitted Ireland XV of the players that can consider themselves unlucky to be excluded from Schmidt’s squad.
15 – Fullback – Tiernan O’Halloran
Connacht and the majority of Ireland fans rejoiced over the summer when Connacht fullback Tiernan O’Halloran was selected for Ireland’s tour of South Africa. O’Halloran was electric for last season’s Pro 12 champions and has showed some real dynamism for Pat Lam’s side this season with big breaks against Edinburgh, Ulster and the Ospreys as well as tries against Toulouse and Zebre.
14 – Right Wing – Niyi Adeolokun
Enjoyed a breakout campaign last season and has taken that momentum into this season with some strong performances for Connacht. Has scored four tries in nine games for the westerners and is improving seemingly with every game.
13 – Outside Centre – Tommy Bowe
Only made his return to rugby against Connacht three weeks ago, but produced a brilliant assist for a Jared Payne try in that game after slicing through the Connacht defence. Would most likely be used as a winger if he does earn a recall to Ireland’s squad but has played at outside centre before and spent some time there on Friday against Munster. Still one of Ireland’s best finishers when healthy.
12 – Inside Centre – Stuart Olding
Impressed mightily alongside Luke Marshall on the summer tour to South Africa and can consider himself very unlucky not to be selected. Was ultimately pipped by his teammate Marshall but should anything happen to Robbie Henshaw over the next month you can imagine he’ll be one of the first players called upon.
11 – Left Wing – Cian Kelleher
Has been a revelation for Connacht this season and their top try scorer. Adept at both wing and fullback, Kelleher has been on Schmidt’s radar for sometime now with the former Leinster back being told by the Ireland coach last season that if he ever wanted to be considered for Ireland selection he would need to be playing ‘regular first team rugby’.
Kelleher heeded the advice and headed west, where he is enjoying a very fine season for Connacht and was named Pro 12 Player of the Month for September.
10 – Fly-Half – Ian Madigan
Connacht’s Jack Carty is continuing to improve but the top two spots in the Irish fly-half pecking order still firmly belong to Jonathan Sexton and Paddy Jackson. It’s just over a year since Ian Madigan started in Ireland’s World Cup quarter-final loss to Argentina, but with the rise of mercurial Leinster playmaker Joey Carberry, Madigan’s international days could be numbered.
9 – Scrum-half – Caolin Blade
Has looked excellent for Connacht this season in the absence of Kieran Marmion and is a real player for the future. Very sharp passing skills and has a great turn of pace, which could cause problems in the future if he can work his way into a bench role for Ireland.
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8 – Number Eight – Jack O’Donoghue
Was out injured for the first few weeks of October but returned for Munster against Ulster on Friday and is a very dynamic backrower. Had a tremendous start to the season and will be in line for a call-up in the future if he can force his way into the Munster team, which invariably, will be no easy feat given the presence of CJ Stander, Tommy O’Donnell and captain Peter O’Mahony.
7 – Openside Flanker – Tommy O’Donnell
Missed Munster’s league games with the Dragons and Edinburgh through concussion but when he has played he’s looked good; routinely putting in high tackling, hard working shifts. Still looks like he’s working on getting some of his explosiveness back but is a victim of playing in the most hotly contested position in the country.
6 – Blindside Flanker – Dan Leavy
Has been one of Leinster’s most consistent performers this season and was unlucky not to be called upon by Joe Schmidt. Adept across the backrow, Leavy has been a force this season for Leinster with his aggression, high work rate and ball carrying making a big difference for the Blues. Rhys Ruddock with an honourable mention here.
5 – Lock – Aly Muldowney
Would be the fifth oldest player to ever play for Ireland if he was to have been called up but Muldowney was simply exceptional last season and has carried that form over to Grenoble to start this season. Good ball carrier, great tackler and excellent link player that qualifies for Ireland through his father who was born in Newbridge.
4 – Lock – Andrew Browne
Has excelled for Connacht after breaking into the team against Ulster and has formed a formidable partnership in the second row with Ultan Dillane. Has assumed the role left by the vacated Muldowney and has performed admirably for Emerging Ireland sides in the past.
3 – Tighthead Prop – Mike Ross
Has been edged out at club and international level by Tadgh Furlong but is still one of Ireland’s best scrummagers. At 36 years old it’s hard to envision him getting back into the Ireland squad but is still worth having around given his reliability at the set-piece.
2 – Hooker – Niall Scannell
With Rory Best and Sean Cronin still the first choice rakes in Ireland, and with Leinster’s James Tracy now being blooded in for the future, Scannell and Connacht’s Dave Heffernan are very much on the outside of the Irish squad, but Scannell has noticeably improved this season, particularly with his lineout throwing and work rate.
1 – Loosehead Prop – Dave Kilcoyne
Will feel hard done by to lose out to Leinster’s Cian Healy but realistically would have been an outside chance of playing anyway given the inclusion of Finlay Bealham and Jack McGrath. Has been an effective ball runner this year and a solid scrummager, like O’Donnell and Leavy he’s a victim of circumstance.
Jack O’Toole, Pundit Arena
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Read More About: 2016 November Internationals, Aly Muldowney, Cian Kelleher, Dan Leavy, Ireland omitted xv, ireland rugby, irish rugby, jack o'donoghue, Joe Schmidt, mike ross, Tiernan O'Halloran, Tommy Bowe, tommy o'donnell, Top Story