Six Nations
Best and Horan return for Ireland
January 19, 2010
Ireland hooker Rory Best charges through the Scotland defence, Six Nations, Scotland v Ireland, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland, March 14, 2009
Rory Best has made a surprise return © Getty Images

Ireland coach Declan Kidney has named a 44-man squad for their Six Nations defence and Ireland 'A' internationals, with one eye already on the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

Nine new caps take their place in the squad, with several familiar faces making a return to international action. Ulster hooker Rory Best, thought to have been out for the season with a neck injury, and Munster prop Marcus Horan both slot in after resuming contact training. Leinster flanker Shane Jennings returns from suspension.

Horan will now compete with Leinster's Cian Healy for loose-head duties, having not played for Munster since their Heineken Cup win over Benetton Treviso in October. Munster No.8 Denis Leamy and Leinster wing Luke Fitzgerald were unavailable due to injury.

Jonny Sexton will again compete with Ronan O'Gara for fly-half duties, with the battle at scrum-half set to be an intense one between Peter Stringer, Isaac Boss, Tomas O'Leary and Eoin Reddan. Brian O'Driscoll will again lead Ireland following an unbeaten 2009.

Ulster's Dan Tuohy, Chris Henry and Declan Fitzpatrick lead the new recruits, with Connacht's Brett Wilkinson, Leinster's Devin Toner, Fergus McFadden, John Fogerty and Kevin Mclaughlin and Leicester's Johne Murphy completing the nine new caps.

The squad will train together in Limerick next week before an 'A' squad is named for a fixture against the England Saxons in Bath on January 31.Ireland kick off their Six Nations campaign against Italy at Croke Park on February 6.

"When naming the squad, we had three main considerations, with the most important being the opening game against Italy, followed by the A games and further down the line with the Rugby World Cup," Kidney said. "Building a squad has always been a priority for us and the work done during the first half of the season means there is a little more experience accumulated in the squad then we had a couple of months ago."

Ireland 44-man squad:

Forwards: Rory Best (Ulster), Tony Buckley (Munster), Tom Court (Ulster), Sean Cronin (Connacht), Leo Cullen (Leinster), Stephen Ferris (Ulster), Declan Fitzpatrick (Ulster), Jerry Flannery (Munster), John Fogarty (Leinster), John Hayes (Munster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Chris Henry (Ulster), Marcus Horan (Munster), Shane Jennings (Leinster), Kevin McLaughlin (Leinster), Donncha O'Callaghan (Munster), Paul O'Connell (Munster), Mick O'Driscoll (Munster), Sean O'Brien (Leinster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster), David Wallace (Munster), Brett Wilkinson (Connacht)

Backs: Isaac Boss (Ulster), Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Gordon D'Arcy (Leinster), Ian Dowling (Munster), Keith Earls (Munster), Shane Horgan (Leinster), Denis Hurley (Munster), Robert Kearney (Leinster), Kevin McLaughlin (Leinster), Johne Murphy (Leicester), Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster), Ronan O'Gara (Munster), Tomas O'Leary (Munster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Peter Stringer (Munster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster), Paddy Wallace (Ulster)


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