The final spot in the Ireland squad for the summer tour to Canada and the USA has been confirmed with uncapped Ulster centre Ian Whitten joining the tour party that departs on Sunday for Vancouver.
Ian Whitten, who is currently a member of the Ulster Academy, brings the total number of uncapped players in Ireland’s 25-man tour squad to 13.
He comes in for his fellow Ulsterman Paddy Wallace who will miss the summer tour on medical advice after sustaining several head injuries this season.
The 21-year-old Whitten crowned his senior debut for Ulster with a try against Stade Francais in January’s Heineken Cup pool clash in Paris.
Since then, he has made seven appearances in the Magners League – including a run-out against the Scarlets on Saturday – and forged a burgeoning centre partnership with fellow Ireland hopeful Darren Cave.
IRELAND Squad (North American Tour, 2009):
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) (capt)
Tony Buckley (Shannon/Munster)
Ryan Caldwell (Dungannon/Ulster)*
Bob Casey (London Irish)
Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)*
Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)
Sean Cronin (Buccaneers/Connacht)*
Ian Dowling (Shannon/Munster)*
Gavin Duffy (Galwegians/Connacht)
Chris Henry (Ballymena/Ulster)*
Denis Hurley (Cork Constitution/Munster)*
Ian Keatley (Galwegians/Connacht)*
Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Keith Matthews (Buccaneers/Connacht)*
John Muldoon (Galwegians/Connacht)*
Barry Murphy (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Niall O’Connor (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)*
Mick O’Driscoll (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Eoin Reddan (London Wasps)
Niall Ronan (Shannon/Munster)*
Mike Ross (Harlequins)*
Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
Peter Stringer (Shannon/Munster)
Ian Whitten (Ballymena/Ulster)*
Bryan Young (Ballymena/Ulster)
N.B. *Denotes uncapped player at full international level
Ireland Tour Schedule:
Depart Sunday, May 17 for Canada
Canada v Ireland, Saturday, May 23, kick-off 2pm (local time); 10pm (Irish time) (live RTE Two), Thunderbird Stadium, Vancouver
USA v Ireland, Sunday, May 31, kick-off 1pm (local time); 9pm (Irish time) (live Setanta Sports Ireland), Buck Shaw Stadium, Santa Clara, California