10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
"Building a squad has always been a priority for us and the work done during the first half of the season means there is a little more experience accumulated in the squad then we had a couple of months ago."
This squad will train together in Limerick next week before an 'A' squad is named next Tuesday (January 26) ahead of the away fixture against the England Saxons in Bath.
Additional players outside of the 44-man squad named today will be added to that 'A' squad from which the team to play the England Saxons will be selected.
Overall, the extended Championship squad contains nine uncapped players, with Ulster's Dan Tuohy and Declan Fitzpatrick the newest members of the squad for this season.
Elsewhere in the forwards, Rory Best returns to the squad after resuming contact training as does his fellow front rower Marcus Horan after his injury lay-off.
Shane Jennings has been named in the squad after his return from suspension to increase the competition for places in the back row, alongside his Leinster team-mates Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien, Kevin McLaughlin as well as Chris Henry, David Wallace and Stephen Ferris.
In the backs, there is an equal amount of competition at scrum half with Peter Stringer, Isaac Boss, Tomas O'Leary and Eoin Reddan all included.
The wing positions also show Denis Hurley, Andrew Trimble, Shane Horgan, Tommy Bowe, Johne Murphy, Ian Dowling and Keith Earls all named in the squad and competing for a starting spot against Italy.
Kidney added: "While there were new players who gained vital experience during the GUINNESS Series, the goal is to keep that experience ticking over with all the players who need international level game time.
"By having the 'A' games early, it allows us to get people on the pitch so they can keep their own performance levels up as we progress through to the later stages of the Championship.
"The aim is now to continue that while trying to increase the competitiveness that we need for the Italy game.
"The provinces have all been in good form, making selection even more competitive, but we will need that for the big challenges that are ahead for the group over the next couple of weeks.
"The focus is very much on our game against Italy in a fortnight's time and we are preparing for that first challenge."
IRELAND Squad (2010 RBS 6 Nations Championship):
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster)
Isaac Boss (Ballymena/Ulster)
Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
Tony Buckley (Shannon/Munster)
Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)
Sean Cronin (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Leo Cullen (Blackrock College/Leinster)
Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Ian Dowling (Shannon/Munster)
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster)
Declan Fitzpatrick (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)*
Jerry Flannery (Shannon/Munster)
John Fogarty (De La Salle Palmerston/Leinster)*
John Hayes (Bruff/Munster)
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster)
Chris Henry (Ballymena/Ulster)*
Marcus Horan (Shannon/Munster)
Shane Horgan (Boyne/Leinster)
Denis Hurley (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Shane Jennings (St. Mary's College/Leinster)
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster)*
Kevin McLaughlin (St. Mary's College/Leinster)*
Johne Murphy (Leicester)*
Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Paul O'Connell (Young Munster/Munster)
Mick O'Driscoll (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Brian O'Driscoll (UCD/Leinster)
Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Tomas O'Leary (Dolphin/Munster)
Sean O'Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)
Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster)
Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary's College/Leinster)
Peter Stringer (Shannon/Munster)
Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster)*
Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
Dan Tuohy (Ballymena/Ulster)*
David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster)
Paddy Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster)
Brett Wilkinson (Galwegians/Connacht)*
* Denotes uncapped player
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