herald

Monday 25 September 2017

Kidney: Strange without Drico and Luke not fit enough

IRELAND have included five uncapped players among a 32-man squad named ahead of Sunday's Six Nations opener against Wales.

Wings David Kearney and Simon Zebo are present after scoring a try apiece in the Irish Wolfhounds' 23-17 defeat by England Saxons on Friday.

Centre Eoin O'Malley, back row Peter O'Mahony and prop Brett Wilkinson also feature.

All five have been promoted from the Wolfhounds' squad, alongside capped internationals full-back Denis Hurley, lock Dan Tuohy and back rows Chris Henry and Rhys Ruddock.

Scrum-halves Tomás O'Leary and Isaac Boss have failed to make it, as has second row Leo Cullen.

Declan Kidney will name the team to face Wales at lunchtime tomorrow, with the key talking point who will replace the injured Brian O'Driscoll at outside centre.

Keith Earls, Tommy Bowe, Fergus McFadden and Andrew Trimble are all competing for the number 13 jersey.

"It is strange to be going into a Six Nations without him (O'Driscoll) but he wouldn't want me approaching this worrying about what are we going to do without him," said Kidney, who defended Luke Fitzgerald's omission.

Chance

"I took a hit by not naming him in the original squad, but there is a right way to do it and there was always a good chance of Luke not playing in rounds five and six of the Heineken Cup. Unfortunately, Luke is not fit to train with us this week either."

On taking on Wales after defeat in New Zealand, he said: "It was not through lack of effort -- they took the chances that came their way better than we did. If we both play the same way again, they will win on Sunday."

Ireland squad - Forwards: R Best (Ulster), T Bowe (Ospreys), T Court (Ulster), S Cronin (Leinster), S Ferris (Ulster), C Healy (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster), C Henry (Ulster), S Jennings (Leinster), S O'Brien (Leinster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), P O'Mahony (Munster), M Ross (Leinster), D Ryan (Munster), R Ruddock (Leinster), D Tuohy (Ulster), B Wilkinson (Connacht). Backs: G D'Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), D Hurley (Munster), R Kearney (Leinster), D Kearney (Leinster), F McFadden (Leinster), C Murray (Munster), R O'Gara (Munster), E O'Malley (Leinster), E Reddan (Leinster), J Sexton (Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster), P Wallace (Ulster), S Zebo (Munster).

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