SIMON Zebo was yesterday left out of Joe Schmidt’s 38-man squad, for the upcoming Autumn Series as the coach sent out a loud and clear message to the full-back and any other Irish player thinking about a move abroad.
There was however great news for Dunmanway’s Darren Sweetnam who is one of the uncapped players named by Schmidt.
Sweetnam’s call-up marks another huge step for the former Cork hurler but will present a headache for director of rugby Rassie Erasmus after 11 of his players were named in the panel.
Sweetnam is joined by another uncapped Munster back Chris Farrell along with Dave Kilcoyne, Tommy O’Donnell, Peter O’Mahony, John Ryan and CJ Stander who have been named among the forwards, while joining Farrell and Sweetnam in the backs are Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Ian Keatley and Conor Murray.
Zebo is named at full back as Erasmus makes made three changes made to the side that defeated Racing 92 in the Champions Cup last weekend while Sweetnam is named on the bench.
They face Connacht this evening in the Sportsgrounds in the PRO14.
In the front five John Ryan and Mark Flanagan are promoted from the bench this week, with Ryan joining Dave Kilcoyne and Rhys Marshall in the front row as Flanagan links up with his second row partner Billy Holland once again. Holland has started every game this season, playing the full 80 in each game, bar a 10 minute sin binning period against Glasgow.
The international back row trio of captain Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell and CJ Stander complete the pack.
The half-back pairing of Conor Murray and Ian Keatley continue as they were and the only change to the backline is a straight swop as Andrew Conway takes the place of Darren Sweetnam to start on the wing, joining Keith Earls and Simon Zebo in the back three.