Simon Zebo returns to Ireland rugby squad for the first time since 2017

Munster ace is included in the group that will face Japan, New Zealand and Argentina in November
Simon Zebo returns to Ireland rugby squad for the first time since 2017

Munster ace Simon Zebo is back in the Ireland squad. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

ANDY Farrell has named a 38-strong squad for the upcoming Autumn Nations Series fixtures at the Aviva Stadium, including Cork dynamo Simon Zebo.

Gavin Coombes and Peter O'Mahony are also in the panel for the clash with Japan on Saturday, November 6 before hosting New Zealand a week later. 

The final game in the series sees Mario Ledesma’s Argentina line out at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, November 21. The Aviva Stadium will be at full capacity for these three games.

Johnny Sexton who has been capped 99 times for his country will lead the squad during this international window.

Six of Ireland’s players who toured with the British and Irish Lions during the summer - Bundee Aki, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Tadgh Furlong, Iain Henderson and Conor Murray are included as is Ronan Kelleher who joined the squad in South Africa.

Six of the players who won their first caps during the Vodafone Summer Series in July have been included in the squad – Robert Baloucoune, Harry Byrne, Gavin Coombes, James Hume, Tom O’Toole and Nick Timoney.

There are two uncapped players named Leinster duo Dan Sheehan and Ciaran Frawley while Munster’s Simon Zebo is named in an Ireland squad for the first time since June 2017.

Robbie Henshaw will continue his rehabilitation programme under the supervision of the Ireland medical team.

Thomas Ahern (Munster) and Jamie Osborne (Leinster) will train with the squad as development players during this window.

Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell, commented: "It has been a short lead in to this international window but that is the challenge, to get back up to speed quickly and build on the performances from the Six Nations and the Summer Tests. 

"This is the start of an exciting period for the group as we begin to build towards the Rugby World Cup in France.

"In September we got together and mapped out what was coming up in this window, the exciting fixtures that lay ahead in the next 12 months and beyond that the opportunities to improve as a group over the next five windows we will have together.

"In a few weeks’ we will face an exciting and well-coached Japan team who showed in July what a dangerous team they are. New Zealand dominated the Rugby Championship losing just one game while Argentina are battle-hardened from playing the southern hemisphere’s Big 3 week in week out over the past two months.

"It would be fantastic to play in front of a full-house at the Aviva Stadium. We had small crowds back in for the games in July and even that made a huge difference to the team and the atmosphere in the stadium."

Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series fixtures at the Aviva Stadium will be televised on RTÉ and Channel 4.

IRELAND SQUAD

Backs (18): 

Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 31 caps 

Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 1 cap 

Harry Byrne (Leinster/Lansdowne) 1 cap

Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 24 caps 

Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 3 caps 

Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 25 caps 

Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 93 caps

Ciaran Frawley (Leinster/UCD)

Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 10 caps 

James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap 

Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 13 caps 

Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 30 caps 

James Lowe (Leinster) 6 caps 

Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 5 caps 

Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 89 caps 

Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 34 caps 

Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 99 caps 

Simon Zebo (Munster/Cork Constitution) 35 caps 

Forwards (20): 

Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 5 caps 

Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 16 caps 

Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 22 caps 

Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 20 caps 

Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps 

Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 19 caps 

Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 9 caps 

Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 49 caps 

Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 109 caps 

Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 63 caps R

ob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 22 caps 

Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 13 caps 

Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 45 caps 

Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 76 caps 

Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 1 cap Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps 

James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps 

Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne)

Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap 

Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 32 caps 

Development Players: 

Thomas Ahern (Munster/Shannon) 

Jamie Osborne (Leinster/Naas) 

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