Ireland’s Schmidt turns to what he knows for Autumn Series

Joe Schmidt has named his 34 man squad for the visits of Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand next month, including three debutants and dropping a couple of big names.

Ulster wing Andrew Trimble, and 94 cap legend and Munster second row Donnacha O’Callaghan both miss out.

The omission of O’Callaghan is particularly telling given the injuries to potential second rows Donnacha Ryan and Iain Henderson.

Trimble’s omission may also raise a few eyebrows given that Simon Zebo will miss the series, however Schmidt has included Leinster wing David Kearney in the squad instead and the younger brother of the Lions fullback Rob could be in line to make his debut.

Also hoping to make their debuts are Munster’s James Coughlan and Leinster’s Jack McGrath.

Jonny Sexton is the only player included who currently plays outside of Ireland; he will compete with his old Leinster colleague Iain Madigan and the exciting and in form Paddy Jackson of Ulster for the fly half berth.

The squad does seem to suggest that Joe Schmidt is going back to what he knows from his previous job as the Leinster supremo in his early days Ireland coach, there are seventeen Leinstermen in his squad, compared to just sixteen from the other three provinces combined.

In fairness though the squad is largely reflective of form, only the injury plagued Eoin Reddan might feel a little fortunate to be in the squad, particularly given the form of Paul Marshall, however when fit Reddan is a livewire.

Schmidt did speak of the fine margins that came into play over selection though:

“The squad combines players who have shown form in the domestic season mixed with those who have a proven record at international level.”

“As always there were some very difficult decisions. Some players have had limited opportunity to impress due to injury and others have performed very well and it was difficult to leave them out.”

“The series will demand plenty from the squad and I know they’ll be motivated by the challenge.”

 Brian O’Driscoll is also included in the squad following his decision to keep playing international rugby this year, should he return to full fitness after injury then if selected he and Gordon D’Arcy could regain the Test cap record for a centre partnership from New Zealand’s Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

Ireland squad:

Backs: Isaac Boss (Leinster), Tommy Bowe (Ulster), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster), Keith Earls (Munster), Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Paddy Jackson (Ulster), David Kearney (Leinster), Rob Kearney (Leinster), Ian Madigan (Leinster), Luke Marshall (Ulster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster), Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro 92).

Forwards: Stephen Archer (Munster), Rory Best (Ulster), James Coughlan (Munster), Tom Court (Ulster), Sean Cronin (Leinster), Declan Fitzpatrick (Ulster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Chris Henry (Ulster), Mike McCarthy (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Kevin McLaughlin (Leinster), Sean O’Brien (Leinster), Paul O’Connell (Munster), Peter O’Mahony (Munster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Mike Sherry (Munster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster).

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