The Ireland coaches have named a 34-man squad to prepare for the RBS 6 Nations Championship round 3 match against France at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday.
Munster pair Ian Keatley and Andrew Conway – the only uncapped member of the squad – are included, along with Connacht’s Quinn Roux and Dan Leavy who was a try-scoring man-of-the-match for Leinster on Friday night.
Tommy Bowe, who missed out on selection against Italy, features in the backs after his try-scoring performance in Ulster’s bonus point win over Glasgow Warriors.
With the likes of Jonathan Sexton and Rob Kearney recovering well from their respective calf and bicep injuries, and Peter O’Mahony back to full fitness following his hamstring strain, head coach Joe Schmidt has some welcome selection headaches this week.
“We’ve got a few selection headaches and that’s exactly what you need. The back three of the scrum and back-three of the pitch…even in the front row and second row there are a few decisions to be made, and part of that is we’ll grab the footage (from training in Monaghan) and just see how guys are going,” said Schmidt.
“Andrew Trimble was great in November, has been really good for us when he has been available and we’ve got some other guys who have chipped in. Gilly (Craig Gilroy) off the bench, Andrew Conway has gone really well.
“I think Tommy with a bit more game-time – he hasn’t actually played many games – he’ll get closer and closer to where we need him to be, because two years ago I think he was really pivotal in us winning the Championship.”
Commenting on Ireland’s round 3 opponents, he added: “We have no doubt about what French team will turn up. It will be big and it will be powerful and it will be incredibly motivated because both teams are effectively out of the contest if they lose next Saturday. They were super against England and solid against Scotland when they did enough to win.”
IRELAND Squad (v France, 2017 RBS 6 Nations Championship, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, February 25, kick-off 4.50pm):
Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) 68
Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) *
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 56
Craig Gilroy (Bangor/Ulster) 10
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 26
Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster) 21
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 74
Ian Keatley (Young Munster/Munster) 5
Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht) 10
Luke Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster) 9
Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 1
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 55
Tiernan O’Halloran (Buccaneers/Connacht) 3
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 5
Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 63
Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster) 69
Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster) 30
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) (capt) 101
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 13
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 64
Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster) (vice-capt) 93
Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 29
Dan Leavy (UCD/Leinster) 1
Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) 38
Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster) 46
Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster) 12
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 37
Quinn Roux (Galwegians/Connacht) 1
Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster) 44
John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 3
Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 1
CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 12
Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 44
James Tracy (UCD/Leinster) 2
* Denotes uncapped player