Bernard Jackman anticipates that Andy Farrell will name a "tried and tested" squad for the 2021 Six Nations but suspects that Ulster wing Ethan McIlroy may be one of the newer names to get a call-up. 

The head coach will name his complete squad this afternoon, less than a fortnight out from the opening weekend. Ireland begin their campaign away to Wales in Cardiff. 

While the Autumn Nations Cup didn't ignite too much enthusiasm - and the underwhelming performance against Georgia sparked a bout of navel-gazing - Ireland did nonetheless finish impressively enough, with a comfortable victory at home to Scotland.

Jackman imagines the squad won't look too different from the one which attacked the November campaign but name-checks McIlroy as a likely call-up, even if he envisages that a spot in the match-day 23 may prove beyond him at this point. 

The 20-year-old Ulster wing, part of Ireland's Under-20 squad last year, attracted plaudits for his displays during the recent inter-provincial series, particularly against Munster where he notched an early try and collected the man of the match award. 

"I think it'll be a pretty tried and tested squad," the former Ireland hooker told Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1. 

"They finished well against Scotland in November and there probably hasn't been too many guys putting their hands up.

"The likes of Rhys Ruddock has been in great form but he didn't have a huge game at the weekend. Gavin Coombes was pretty impressive but the back-row is settled and hard to break into.

"The one guy I think may come in is the young Ulster winger Ethan McIlroy. Andrew Conway doesn't seem to be available for this squad and hasn't played for the past few weeks. 

McIlroy in action for the Ireland u20s last year

"But McIlroy has got some game-time for Ulster and has looked pretty dangerous. He may get involved but probably not in the match-day 23."

Leinster and Munster players will surely predominate, though Farrell may be waiting on the fitness of Johnny Sexton and Peter O'Mahony, both of whom were withdrawn in the sides' clash in Thomond Park on Saturday night.  

The hosts may well still be cursing their failure to close out that game, Jordan Larmour's late try giving the reigning champions a smash and grab victory. 

"Leinster, at the moment, they don't beat themselves and Munster did beat themselves," Jackman observes. 

"For Munster - despite the positives, the great start, bringing a lot of energy to the game - two missed goal-kicks, allowing Leinster exit easily at a key moment of the game, and some indiscipline when they weren't under that much pressure. 

"Leinster just stayed calm, they trusted each other and found the opportunity to score the crucial try from that beautiful move off a lineout.

"Munster will definitely feel they're getting closer but will also feel pretty sick that they're not able to get the job done."

On Sunday, Connacht, whose year began with a landmark win over Leinster in the RDS, slumped to a fourth successive home defeat, this latest one against Ospreys

The westerners led by 12 points at the break before surrendering the advantage in a sloppy second half, and their normally positive head coach Andy Friend struggled to hide his frustration afterwards. 

"Andy is one of the most positive, controlled coaches that you'll come across. But you could see the last four home defeats have got to him. And it's the manner of those defeats - they're just not helping themselves.

"We've analysed the Bristol and Munster games where they were coming from behind and didn't manage those situations well. 

"But yesterday, they got off to flier. To be 17-5 up at half-time, you could only see one winner. Just a little bit of inexperience and lacking a bit of confidence, they let Ospreys back into the game. It'll be a sore loss to try and overcome."