Munster's Tyler Bleyendaal and Connacht star Bundee Aki have joined up with the Ireland squad for a training get-together as both look to force their way into Test reckoning
The pair, who qualify under the three-year residency rule, were pictured at an extended training session at Carton House yesterday.
The Connacht centre was born in Auckland and also qualifies for Samoa via parentage. He will be eligible for Ireland in October ahead of the November internationals against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina.
In April, the 27-year-old admitted that he harboured international ambitions, but refused to declare for Ireland despite having met up with Schmidt, insisting he wanted to concentrate on his club rugby.
Couple of new faces in the Ireland training camp. 👀— martin (@16thman) August 21, 2017
Thanks Angela Nolan for sending the pics our way. pic.twitter.com/kIzeesbFDu
Under the residency rule, Munster backrower CJ Stander and Ulster’s versatile back Jared Payne have become key members of Schmidt’s squad.
Fellow Kiwi Bleyendaal is a New Zealand U20 international and captained his country to victory in the 2010 Junior World Championship, but certainly won't feature in November as the out-half isn’t eligible until next January.
The 27-year-old struggled with injuries upon his arrival to Munster, but stamped his mark on the team last year as Munster made it to the Pro12 final and Champions Cup semi-final.
Bleyendaal was named Munster’s Player of the Year for 2016, secured a European Player of the Year nominee and was also included in the Pro12 Dream Team after amassing 241 points in his 27 outings in all competitions.
Rugby announced earlier this year that the residency period to be eligible for international rugby is to be increased from three to five years.
From 1 January 2021 onwards, players will only be allowed to represent a foreign country after they have been living and playing there for five consecutive years.