DECLAN KIDNEY HAS named an extended 39-man squad for the upcoming Six Nations tournament.
Along with choosing six uncapped players, the Ireland manager has chosen Jamie Heaslip over Brian O’Driscoll to captain the team. Meanwhile, Tommy Bowe, Stephen Ferris, Luke Marshall, John Muldoon, Paul O’Connell and Dan Tuohy all miss out through injury.
On the captaincy, Kidney said: “Jamie had done a really good job for the squad and management during November and I felt that now was the correct time to do this. Brian has had very little rugby in the last number of months and I think he deserves the space and time to concentrate on getting himself back playing fully fit.
“We need Brian the player just as much as we need Brian the captain and typical of the man and the selfless way he has contributed to Irish Rugby and the Ireland team, he has said that the captain and the team would have his full support.”
The squad is as follows: Michael Bent, Rory Best, Isaac Boss, Darren Cave, Tom Court, Sean Cronin, Gordon D’Arcy, Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Declan Fitzpatrick, Craig Gilroy, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip (captain), Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Robbie Henshaw, Paddy Jackson, Rob Kearney, David Kilcoyne, Ian Madigan , Paul Marshall, Conor Murray, Mike McCarthy, Fergus McFadden, Dave McSharry , Sean O’Brien, Donncha O’Callaghan, Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Peter O’Mahony, Eoin Reddan, Mike Ross, Donnacha Ryan, Jonathan Sexton, Lewis Stevenson, Richardt Strauss, Devin Toner, Andrew Trimble, Simon Zebo.
Ireland kick off their Six Nations campaign away to Wales on February 2.