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Emerging Ireland Squad Named For Toyota Challenge In Bloemfontein

The Emerging Ireland Squad

The Emerging Ireland squad for the trip to South Africa

The Ireland coaching group have named the 35-man squad that will travel to South Africa in late September to play in the Toyota Challenge.

The Emerging Ireland panel will have a three-day camp in the IRFU’s High Performance Centre in Dublin before flying to Bloemfontein to play against three Currie Cup sides, the Griquas, Pumas and Cheetahs.

The squad contains four capped players – Robert Baloucoune (2 caps), Caolin Blade (1), Shane Daly (2) and Max Deegan (1) – and three players who featured against the Māori All Blacks during the summer – Ciaran Frawley, Joe McCarthy and Cian Prendergast.  

Jamie Osborne and Tom Ahern have both trained with the Ireland senior squad as development players.

Eight players featured in the Ireland Under-20 squad that won a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2019 – Thomas Clarkson, Brian Deeny, Jake Flannery, John Hodnett, Michael Milne, Scott Penny, Callum Reid and Dylan Tierney-Martin. 

2022 Under-20 Six Nations Grand Slam winners, James Culhane and Chay Mullins, are included. Culhane was named the U-20 Player of the Tournament, while Mullins has gone on to win a bronze medal at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town.

Andrew Smith also played for the Ireland Men’s Sevens team in last weekend’s Rugby World Cup Sevens.

The former Ireland Under-20 international (pictured below) has played in seven World Series tournaments and won an Energia All-Ireland League title with Clontarf this year.

Harry McNulty and Andrew Smith 11/09/2022

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented:

This Emerging Ireland tour is of vital strategic importance in a Rugby World Cup year. It will put some stress on our player resources, but it will provide an opportunity for emerging talent to impress the national coaches early in a World Cup season.

“As these players return to their provinces their progress can be monitored and supported so that they remain part of the national team picture.

“The three games in Bloemfontein and the ‘A’ game against the All Blacks XV in Dublin provide an incredible opportunity for these players to gain experience in the national environment and force their way into the coaches’ thinking for the season ahead.”

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell said: “This opportunity provides another window for players to develop and show they can thrive in the intensity of a national environment.

“It will be exciting to see which players step up and put themselves in the frame for a further opportunity to impress in November.

“For some players it is an opportunity to build on what they have already learned in national camp and take their development to the next level. For others it is a first opportunity to show the national coaches what they are about and what they can deliver.”

Simon Easterby, the Emerging Ireland head coach, added: “The coaching group are really excited about working with this squad and broadening the selection pool for the national team.

“We will look to replicate the national team environment and training intensity, so players get a good understanding of what it takes to perform at the highest level.

“The players will have to adapt to the national team’s tactical and technical approach in a very short window of time and deal with the pressure of performing in a green jersey.”


Backs (15) –

Robert Baloucoune (Enniskillen/Ulster) *
Caolin Blade (Galwegians/Connacht) *
Jack Crowley (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Shane Daly (Cork Constitution/Munster) *
Nathan Doak (Banbridge/Ulster)
Jake Flannery (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Antoine Frisch (Munster)
Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster)
Michael McDonald (Ulster)
Ethan McIlroy (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Stewart Moore (Malone/Ulster)
Chay Mullins (Connacht/IQ Rugby)
Calvin Nash (Young Munster/Munster)
Jamie Osbourne (Naas/Leinster)
Andrew Smith (Clontarf/Leinster)

Forwards (20) –

Tom Ahern (Shannon/Munster)
Diarmuid Barron (Garryowen/Munster)
Thomas Clarkson (Dublin University/Leinster)
James Culhane (UCD/Leinster)
Max Deegan (Lansdowne/Leinster) *
Brian Deeny (Clontarf/Leinster)
John Hodnett (UCC/Munster)
Sam Illo (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Cormac Izuchukwu (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Alex Kendellen (UCC/Munster)
Joe McCarthy (Dublin University/Leinster)
Michael Milne (UCD/Leinster)
Scott Penny (UCD/Leinster)
Cian Prendergast (Connacht)
Callum Reid (Banbridge/Ulster)
Roman Salonoa (Shannon/Munster)
Alex Soroka (Clontarf/Leinster)
Tom Stewart (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Dylan Tierney-Martin (Galway Corinthians/Connacht)
Josh Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster)

* Capped for Ireland

Emerging Ireland Toyota Challenge 2022 Fixtures:

Windhoek Draught Griquas v Emerging Ireland
Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Friday, September 30, kick-off 1.45pm local time/12.45pm Irish time

Airlink Pumas v Emerging Ireland
Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Wednesday, October 5, kick-off 5pm local time/4pm Irish time

Toyota Cheetahs v Emerging Ireland
Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Sunday, October 9, kick-off 3pm local time/2pm Irish time