JOE Schmidt has named three uncapped Connacht trio of Caolin Blade, Tom Farrell and Jack Carty in his Ireland squad for the opening two 2019 Six Nations games against England and Scotland respectively.
Munster and Cork’s Rory Scannell was a surprise omission from the squad having been the most consistent inside centre of all the provinces so far this season.
Ross Byrne another consistent performer has also been overlooked with Schmidt giving Carty his chance for the 10 slot.
With Luke McGrath out for the tournament and Kieran Marmion still recovering from an ankle ligament problem, Blade is brought in as cover at scrumhalf having been one of the standout performers for Connacht along with centre Farrell.
Cork’s Stephen Archer can also feel hard done by although Schmidt did say that the tighthead ‘was at his combative best in Gloucester at the weekend’. This is Schmidt-speak which means Archer will be called in if he has a problem at tighthead.
As expected other in-form players from Munster, Dave Kilcoyne, Tadhg Beirne, Niall Scannell, Peter O’Mahony, John Ryan and CJ Stander make the squad up front while Joey Carbery, Chris Farrell, Keith Earls and Andrew Conway are named among Ireland's backs.
FORWARDS (21): R Best, T Beirne, J Conan, S Cronin, U Dillane, T Furlong, C Healy, I Henderson, D Kilcoyne, J McGrath, J Murphy, S O’Brien, P O’Mahony, A Porter, R Ruddock, James Ryan, John Ryan, N Scannell, CJ Stander, D Toner, J van der Flier.
BACKS (17): W Addison, B Aki, C Blade*, J Carbery, J Carty*, A Conway, J Cooney, K Earls, C Farrell, T Farrell*, R Henshaw, R Kearney, J Larmour, C Murray, G Ringrose, J Sexton, J Stockdale.
*denotes uncapped player.