Who has Joe Schmidt picked to take on Australia in a three-Test series this June? Find out here
UPDATED: Ireland squad to face Australia
Joe Schmidt has called Munster hooker Niall Scannell into the Ireland squad to face Australia in a three-Test series this June after captain Rory Best was ruled out of the tour with a hamstring injury.
Vice-captains Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony are likely to share the captaincy in Australia. That pair are among a number of British & Irish Lions players selected in the strong 32-man squad, with the likes of Conor Murray, Tadhg Furlong and Iain Henderson also selected.
There are two uncapped players in the squad, with Leinster fly-half Ross Byrne and Scarlets lock/back-row Tadhg Beirne rewarded for their strong club form.
Beirne has been a standout performer for the Scarlets over the past two seasons, with his turnover stats particularly impressive, and the fact he is returning to Ireland to join Munster next season means this is a good time to bring him into the national squad.
Byrne, 23, has performed well for Leinster at fly-half this season when called upon. Although Johnny Sexton is undoubtedly the province’s first choice No 10, Byrne has been picked ahead of Joey Carbery at times.
Leinster scrum-half Luke McGrath hasn’t been selected, with Ulster’s John Cooney, who won his first and so far only cap against Japan last summer, favoured as the third nine behind Murray and Kieran Marmion.
Ireland will be aiming to win their first series in Australia for 39 years. They haven’t beaten the Wallabies Down Under since 1979, losing their last ten Tests there, yet they have won three of their last four matches against Australia.
Schmidt’s squad selection shows he wants to keep momentum building after Ireland’s Six Nations Grand Slam. A series win in Australia will strengthen their position at second in the world rankings behind New Zealand with the World Cup in Japan a little over a year away.
“This has probably been the most difficult selection process for the coaching group to date,” said Schmidt. “The coaching group are excited by the challenge that this three-Test tour will present and from talking to the players we get a sense that they, too, are excited about going on tour and testing themselves against one of the best sides in the world in their own backyard.”
The three Tests take place in Brisbane (9 June), Melbourne (16 June) and Sydney (23 June), with the games televised live on Sky Sports.
IRELAND’S TOUR SQUAD
FORWARDS: Rory Best (captain), Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, Dan Leavy, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Peter O’Mahony, Andrew Porter, Quinn Roux, James Ryan, John Ryan, CJ Stander, Devin Toner.
BACKS: Bundee Aki, Ross Byrne, Joey Carbery, Andrew Conway, John Cooney, Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Kieran Marmion, Conor Murray, Garry Ringrose, Johnny Sexton, Jacob Stockdale.
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