Best leads 12 new caps to USA and Canada
May 11, 2009
Rory Best will lead Ireland on their North American tour © Getty Images
Ireland coach Declan Kidney has named an inexperienced squad for their two-Test tour of the Canada and the USA at the end of May. With 13 players touring South Africa with the British and Irish Lions and Leinster involved in the Heineken Cup final on the same day at the Test against Canada, Kidney has handed opportunities to several fringe players and new caps.
The touring party will be led by Ulster hooker Rory Best and contains 12 capped internationals, including Munster's Peter Stringer, Denis Leamy and Mick O'Driscoll as well as London Irish captain Bob Casey and Leinster bound scrum-half Eoin Reddan. Connacht skipper John Muldoon, hooker Sean Cronin, Harlequins prop Mike Ross, Ulster centre Darren Cave and long-time Munster wing Ian Dowling are among the uncapped players selected.
"When we confirmed the tour back in January, we were always hopeful some of the provinces and players would be involved in the Heineken or Challenge Cup finals and we would also be without any players selected for the British & Irish Lions tour," said Kidney.
"We felt that it would be a chance for the national management to work closely with a larger pool of players than we would normally do during the season and for players to come through at this level. We are continuing to try and build a squad and this tour is a real chance for players to stake a claim for the November games and next year's championship.
"The number of experienced players we are bringing is important as we will have two strong oppositions on consecutive weekends to deal with and while there will be new caps during the tour, it is important that we try to bring them through while making it a positive experience. We obviously want to win both games, but it is a balancing act trying to do that while exposing certain players and new combinations to test match level."
Kidney also named a 27-man 'A' squad for this season's Churchill Cup, with capped internationals Neil Best and Isaac Boss making the trip.
Ireland squad for Tests with Canada on May 23 and the USA on May 31:
R Best (Ulster, captain), T Buckley (Munster), R Caldwell (Ulster), B Casey (London Irish), D Cave (Ulster), T Court (Ulster), S Cronin (Connacht), I Dowling (Munster), G Duffy (Connacht), C Henry (Ulster), D Hurley (Munster), I Keatley (Connacht), D Leamy (Munster), K Matthews (Connacht), J Muldoon (Connacht), B Murphy (Munster), N O'Connor (Ulster), M O'Driscoll (Munster), E Reddan (Wasps), N Ronan (Munster), M Ross (Harlequins), D Ryan (Munster), P Stringer (Munster), B Young (Ulster), A.N. Other.
Ireland 'A' squad for the Churchill Cup:
J Andress (Exeter), N Best (Northampton), I Boss (Ulster), T Buckley (Munster), F Carr (Connacht), S Cronin (Connacht), J Downey (Northampton), D Fogarty (Munster), C Healy (Leinster), C Henry (Ulster), T Hogan (Leinster), D Hurley (Munster), F Jones (Leinster), S Keogh (Leinster), K Matthews (Connacht), F McFadden (Leinster), J Muldoon (Connacht, captain), F Murphy (Connacht), J Murphy (Leicester), S O'Brien (Leinster), N O'Connor (Ulster), E O'Donoghue (Ulster), N Ronan (Munster), D Ryan (Munster), J Sexton (Leinster), D Toner (Leinster), B Young (Ulster).