Joe Schmidt admits he had to make some tough decisions before announcing his 34-man Ireland squad that will head to Chicago to take on New Zealand next week.
Schmidt’s side will face the All Blacks twice this autumn while the three other home nations will not meet the World Champions again before The British & Irish Lions 2017 Tour to New Zealand.
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Schmidt has named six uncapped players in his squad – Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery and Garry Ringrose in the back-line and John Ryan, James Tracy and Billy Holland in the forward pack.
That sextet are included alongside experienced veterans, such as Lions Jonathan Sexton, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney, Conor Murray, Sean O’Brien and skipper Rory Best.
The squad will gather in Carton House on Sunday October 30 following the Guinness PRO12 fixtures between Ulster and Munster (Friday 19.05) and Leinster and Connacht (Saturday 17.15). The team departs Dublin for Chicago on Monday 31st.
Ireland head coach Schmidt said: “Selections were difficult as always; trying to balance form, fitness, experience, combinations plus assess those players returning from injury or those carrying minor knocks or strains.
Here's the 6 uncapped players named in the Ireland squad – Carbery, Holland, McGrath, Ringrose, Ryan & Tracy#shouldertoshoulder #TeamOfUs pic.twitter.com/SVrikd7tF8
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) October 26, 2016
“With more than half the squad likely to be involved in Pro12 action this weekend, plus the need to factor in the travel and fatigue from the Chicago fixture, there are also a number of players on standby who are likely to be involved during the first two weeks of the Guinness Series.”
Ireland Squad for New Zealand (Chicago):
Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) captain
Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Leinster)*
Sean Cronin (St Marys/Leinster)
Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht)
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
Tadgh Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster)
Craig Gilroy (Ulster)
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster) vice captain
Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster)
Billy Holland (Cork Constitution/Munster)*
Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster)
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
Kieran Marmion (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Luke Marshall (Ulster)
Jack McGrath (St Marys/Leinster)
Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster)*
Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
Sean O'Brien (UCD/Leinster)
Peter O'Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Jared Payne (Ulster)
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster)*
Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster)*
Jonathan Sexton (St Marys/Leinster)
CJ Stander (Munster)
Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster)
James Tracy (UCD/Leinster)*
Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster)
Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster)
November 5 – Ireland v New Zealand – Soldier Field, Chicago
November 12 – Ireland v Canada – Aviva Stadium, Dublin
November 19 – Ireland v New Zealand – Aviva Stadium, Dublin
November 26 – Ireland v Australia – Aviva Stadium Dublin