Munster prop Federico Pucciariello has been included in the Barbarians squad for their summer schedule of matches, along with Ollie Le Roux and Justin Harrison, two forwards who have departed these shores after winning Magners League titles with Leinster and Ulster respectively.
In all, the Barbarians management have included players from nine different nations for their summer matches against Belgium, Ireland and England.
The squad totals 30 players including Australia’s Stephen Larkham, with 102 Test caps for the Wallabies, and former Test skipper Gareth Thomas, with 103 appearances for Wales and the British & Irish Lions.
The Baa Baas’ tour begins with another pioneering trip to Brussels to play Belgium at the King Baudouin Stadium this Saturday. It will be the 21st country visited by the Barbarians and follows on from recent tours to Portugal, Georgia, Tunisia and Spain.
The squad, coached by David Young, will return to the UK to play Ireland at Gloucester next Tuesday (May 27) and then the final game will see them line out against England at Twickenham on Sunday, June 1.
Thomas and Larkham are both new Barbarians and club president Micky Steele-Bodger is delighted to welcome them on board.
He said: “Given the crowded international calendar these days we sometimes have to wait a while before inviting influential Test stars to represent the club. It is a particular pleasure to have them with us this year and we are confident that they will enjoy the experience.
“Like England and Ireland, we have had to cut our selection cloth in line with the European commitments of other clubs this weekend. However, we are delighted that players from Bath and Worcester, for instance, will be joining us in time for the second and third fixtures.
“Indeed, we are most appreciative of the co-operation we have received from a host of clubs across the board in making players available this year.”
The Baa Baas have invited back three of the pack who shared in the famous win over South Africa six months ago – Justin Harrison, Federico Pucciariello and Mark Regan.
Several other long-standing Barbarians return to the black and white shirt including Danny Grewcock, who first played for the club a dozen years ago, and his fellow England World Cup member Andy Gomarsall, who has already played 12 times for the Baa Baas.
The Barbarians have played Ireland on two previous occasions, winning the Peace International 70-38 in Dublin in 1996 and, four years later, winning 31-30.
Next Tuesday’s Ireland v Barbarians match – interim coach Michael Bradley’s first game at the helm ahead of the summer tour – will be broadcast exclusively live on RTE Two.
Tom McGurk will be joined by Brent Pope and George Hook for live coverage of the clash, which will kick off at 7.45pm. You can purchase tickets for the game here.
BARBARIANS Squad: Backs – Iain Balshaw (Gloucester & England), Peter Hewat (London Irish), Thinus Delport (Worcester Warriors & South Africa), Lesley Vainikolo (Gloucester & England), Gareth Thomas (Cardiff Blues & Wales), Morgan Turinui (Reds & Australia), Jaco Pretorius (Stormers & South Africa), Seilala Mapasua (London Irish & Samoa), Tyrone Smith (Brumbies), Stephen Larkham (Australia), Glen Jackson (Saracens), Andy Gomarsall (Harlequins & England), Michael Claassens (Bath & South Africa), Ryan Powell (Worcester Warriors & Wales).
Forwards – Federico Pucciariello (Munster & Italy), Cobus Visagie (Saracens & South Africa), Ollie Le Roux (Leinster & South Africa), Patrice Collazo (Gloucester & France), Darren Crompton (Bristol & England), Mark Regan (Bristol & England), Sebastien Bruno (Sale Sharks & France), Justin Harrison (Ulster & Australia), Kris Chesney (Saracens), Ross Skeate (Stormers), Danny Grewcock (Bath & England), Pedrie Wannenburg (Blue Bulls & South Africa), Maama Molitika (Cardiff Blues & Tonga), David Croft (Reds & Australia), Mitchell Chapman (Brumbies), Craig Newby (Highlanders & New Zealand).