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.
Having signed back with former province Ulster, prop Justin Fitzpatrick has spoken of his "burning desire" to resume his international career with Ireland.
The 31-year-old earned the last of his 26 Test caps against Italy in a 2003 World Cup warm-up game, but a return to form with Ulster - in his second spell with the province - could see him fill a green shirt again this coming season.
Two seasons with Castres in France in the company of front row talents of the ilk of former All Black Kees Meeuws and Argentinean duo Mauricio Reggiardo and Mario Ledesma, have certainly strengthened the 1999 Heineken Cup winner's will and ability.
Coming back to Belfast seemed an inevitable decision for Fitzpatrick, who made his Irish debut against South Africa in 1999, but a "tough" one all the same.
"It was quite a tough decision. I had been very happy here (in Ulster) and I only left because I just needed to see and do something different," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"I went to Castres and was very well looked after and thoroughly enjoyed it there. But really, I still have a burning desire to play for Ireland. So when the opportunity came up to play for Ulster again, it all seemed to add up.
"A young team and a new set of coaches there with a lot of hunger."
Fitzpatrick, however, is not setting out his stall for a return from the international wilderness just yet.
"First things first. I have to get myself into good shape, get myself into the team here and play well within a team playing well," he added.
"Those are my short term objects. Thereafter, what will be, will be."
Fitzpatrick is in Scotland this week, as part of a 36-man Ulster squad being put through their paces at a week-long training camp at St Andrew's.