Joe Schmidt today named a 38-man Six Nations squad ahead of Ireland's Grand Slam defence.

The Connacht trio of Tom Farrell, Jack Carty and Caolin Blade are the three uncapped players in the squad, which will embark on a warm weather training camp in Portugal next week ahead of their opening match against England at Aviva Stadium on 2 February.

Carty has been chosen ahead of Leinster fly-half Ross Byrne, who won two caps last year and has impressed for the European champions when deputising for Jonathan Sexton.

In-form Connacht scrum-half Blade has benefited from the injury crisis that has struck the position, with potential understudies to first-choice Conor Murray currently unavailable for selection.

Kieran Marmion continues his rehabilitation after surgery, Luke McGrath suffered ligament damage in Leinster's win over Toulouse, while Ulster's John Cooney has been included.

Sean O’Brien, who broke his arm against Argentina, is amongst a strong looking back-row selection, but may need to get some game time under his belt for Leinster, either this weekend against Wasps or Scarlets the following Friday. 

Schmidt suggested Dan Leavy could join O'Brien in the back-row division once he recovers from a calf problem, while also acknowledging the possibility that the weekend's Heineken Champions Cup action could alter his plans.

"It’s been great to watch the provincial teams doing so well in recent weeks," he said."

"With another very competitive round of EPCR this weekend, the following Ireland squad for the first two matches of the Six Nations has been selected, knowing that late changes may be required, depending on how the matches go in the weekend.

"There have been a number of tight calls across almost every position.

"Those selected in the back row could well be joined by Dan Leavy once he’s fully fit. With a cohort of young players emerging, it will keep plenty of pressure on the performances of the experienced guys.

"Quinn Roux was very close to selection in the second row, which has become highly competitive with youngsters Gav Thornbury, Fineen Wycherley and Kieran Treadwell all impressing of late.

"With a cohort of young players emerging, it will continue to keep plenty of pressure on the performances of the experienced back rowers who have been selected."


Will Addison (Ulster)
Bundee Aki (Connacht)
Caolin Blade (Connacht)
Joey Carbery (Munster)
Jack Carty (Connacht)
Andrew Conway (Munster)
John Cooney (Ulster)
Keith Earls (Munster)
Chris Farrell (Munster)
Tom Farrell (Connacht)
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster)
Rob Kearney (Leinster)
Jordan Larmour (Leinster)
Conor Murray (Munster)
Garry Ringrose (Leinster)
Jonathan Sexton, vice captain (Leinster)
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster)


Rory Best, captain (Ulster)
Tadhg Beirne (Munster)
Jack Conan (Leinster)
Sean Cronin (Leinster)
Ultan Dillane (Connacht)
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster)
Cian Healy (Leinster)
Iain Henderson (Ulster)
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster)
Jack McGrath (Leinster)
Jordi Murphy (Ulster)
Sean O’Brien (Leinster)
Peter O’Mahony, vice captain (Munster)
Andrew Porter (Leinster)
Rhys Ruddock (Leinster)
James Ryan (Leinster)
John Ryan (Munster)
Niall Scannell (Munster)
CJ Stander (Munster)
Devin Toner (Leinster)
Josh van der Flier (Leinster)