DECLAN KIDNEY THIS afternoon named his squad for the first preseason camp in preparation for the Guinness Summer Series and the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
In total, 43 players have been selected to attend the first of three scheduled camps in Kildare. A series of get-togethers will be held this month and next.
Four uncapped players, Felix Jones, Mike McCarthy, Conor Murray and Brett Wilkinson, will join players on their way back from injury like Shane Jennings, and Tony Buckley.
“This is the first step in preparation for the Rugby World Cup,” said Kidney in an IRFU statement, “and the group called into our first camp shows that there is competition for places right across the board.
“There are players who we have identified as part of the larger Rugby World Cup squad who will not be in the first camp and will be based with their provincial and club fitness staff, but that may change as we go through June and July, so none of that larger group are necessarily out of contention for the final squad.
“The aim three years ago was to deepen the strength of the squad and there are a number of players that have come through in that time either playing with their provinces or with the Wolfhounds and the Ireland team. There are big challenges ahead for the group with the coming pre-season and then five games in August”.
The full squad is:
Backs: Isaac Boss, Tommy Bowe, Gordon D’Arcy, Gavin Duffy, Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Felix Jones, Robert Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Geordan Murphy, Conor Murray, Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Tomás O’Leary, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton, Peter Stringer, Andrew Trimble, Paddy Wallace.
Forwards: Rory Best, Tony Buckley, Tom Court, Sean Cronin, Leo Cullen,Stephen Ferris, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Marcus Horan, Shane Jennings, Denis Leamy, Mike McCarthy, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Mick O’Driscoll, Michael Ross, Donnacha Ryan, Damien Varley, David Wallace, Brett Wilkinson