Six Nations Championship
Seven uncapped players for Ireland
January 21, 2009
Ulster centre Darren Cave has won his first call-up into the Ireland senior squad © Getty Images
Ireland boss Declan Kidney has named seven uncapped players in his 39-man squad for the Six Nations championship.
Ulster centre Darren Cave and team-mates Tom Court and Ryan Caldwell, Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton and prop Cian Healy, Munster wing Ian Dowling and Harlequins prop Mike Ross will all be hoping for their first taste of international action during the tournament.
There is also a welcome return to the international fold for Leinster centre Gordon D'Arcy, player of the tournament in 2004 and 2006, who has recently begun playing again after a lengthy injury layoff.
"The Six Nations Championship is one of, if not the best annual international tournaments in the world and a great sporting occasion in Ireland," said Kidney. "The players' focus for the first week will be to set the foundations for the tournament and after that, the only focus we will have will be on our opening game against France."
Kidney's extended squad includes provision for overseas players, for example Wasps scrum-half Eoin Reddan, who will be expected to return to club duty on the Wednesday of the first week.
"We want to continue to develop a panel and bringing in 39 players allows to us to work with the players on this basis. As well as bringing the players through the systems of the team, it allows for the usual knocks the players might pick up.
"The core group of players who were part of the November squad have maintained their form but it is also pleasing to be able to bring in players who are really developing this season like Darren Cave and Tom Court as well as more established players who have performed well over the last number of weeks".
Ireland Squad for the Six Nations Championship 2009
Backs: Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Ian Dowling (Shannon - Munster), Girvan Dempsey (Terenure College - Leinster), Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins - Ulster), Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne - Leinster), Keith Earls (Young Munster - Munster), Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College - Leinster), Shane Horgan (Boyne - Leinster), Robert Kearney (UCD - Leinster), Geordan Murphy (Leicester), Brian O'Driscoll (UCD - Leinster), Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution - Munster), Tomas O'Leary (Dolphin - Munster), Eoin Reddan (Wasps), Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary's College - Leinster), Peter Stringer (Shannon - Munster), Andrew Trimble (Ballymena - Ulster), Paddy Wallace (Ballymena - Ulster)
Forwards: Rory Best (Banbridge - Ulster), Ryan Caldwell (Dungannon - Ulster), Bob Casey (London Irish), Tom Court (Ballymena - Ulster), Stephen Ferris (Dungannon - Ulster), Jerry Flannery (Shannon - Munster), John Hayes (Bruff- Munster), Cian Healy (Clontarf - Leinster) Jamie Heaslip (Naas - Leinster), Marcus Horan (Shannon - Munster), Bernard Jackman (Clontarf - Leinster), Shane Jennings (St. Mary's College - Leinster), Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution - Munster), Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution - Munster), Paul O'Connell (Young Munster - Munster), Mick O'Driscoll (Cork Constitution - Munster), Malcolm O'Kelly (St.Mary's College - Leinster), Alan Quinlan (Shannon - Munster), Mike Ross (Harlequins)* Donnacha Ryan (Shannon - Munster), David Wallace (Garryowen - Munster)