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.
Young Ulster centre Andrew Trimble's strong start to the Celtic League season has been noted by irishrugby.ie users. The 20-year-old finished top of our most recent poll.
Five games gone in the league and it is already noticeable the excellent form of some of the province's younger players, who are getting a deserved chance to shine on the Celtic stage.
We asked you in our poll: Which of the provinces' young players has impressed you the most so far this season?
2042 of you replied with Ballymena prodigy Trimble emerging as the player favoured the most. The Coleraine schoolboy, already an excellent performer for Ireland's Under-21 team, has made a blistering start to his debut senior season with Ulster - scoring two tries in his first four games, whilst lining out on the wing and in an impressive midfield tandem with Ireland veteran Kevin Maggs.
Trimble grabbed 754 of your votes for a 36% haul. Leinster winger Robert Kearney, who scooped the province's Player of the Month award for September after bagging six tries in his first six senior games, pipped Munster full-back Barry Murphy for second. Ireland Under-19 captain Kearney gained 28% (591 votes) to the UL Bohs flyer's 27% (556).
Connacht's Keith Matthews, who is a team mate of Murphy's at UL and played for the Ireland Under-21s at the 2003 World Cup, finished with 4% (90). Other players polled 2% (51).