No sooner is the curtain drawn on the 2022/23 season, than the World Cup comes into focus.

It's just three days since Munster capped off the club campaign with a first URC title success in 12 years, and while the celebrations will go on across the province for a few more days at least, there are bigger things coming down the line for some of Graham Rowntree's players.

In just under three weeks on 19 June, a group of 42 players will meet up in Dublin to begin preparations for the tournament in France, a short turnaround for the Munster and Leinster players in particular whose seasons only ended in the last 10 days.

Head coach Andy Farrell confirmed his provisional group on Tuesday afternoon, with 42 players still to be whittled down to 33 before the tournament begins in September.

Four of the 42 players in the group are yet to be capped, with Calvin Nash, Ciarán Frawley, Jamie Osborne and Tom Stewart all having previously been involved in squads.

While there weren't any real surprises in the squad named by Farrell, there were still some talking points.

Are the days of the bolter behind us?

What stands out most from the group of 42 players named by Farrell is that this is a squad that has been built over time.

Given the layer upon layer of detail in the game now, it seems less and less likely that well see a fresh face pulled from the crowd before a big tournament.

Farrell's squad has been four years in the making. It's the very reason why he brought an extended panel to New Zealand last summer and why they arranged an Ireland A fixture against an All Black Select XV back in November.

While form is important, it doesn't trump cohesion considering Ireland's detailed gameplan, particularly in a team that's won all around them for the last 12 months.

Calvin Nash impressed when given a chance for Ireland A in November

Munster's success comes too late to make a major swing

Given the way Munster have performed on their late-season run to the URC title, several of the province's players have caught the eye.

John Hodnett has been a regular presence in the team all season, and is someone the Irish coaches are clearly looking at having included him on the Emerging Ireland tour last September, but his starring roles in the semi-final and final wins against Leinster and the Stormers have seen the hype around the 24-year-old grow even further.

Back row has long been a position of backlog in this country, and with the level of talent in that area already in the squad, his prospective inclusion was always likely to be as an extra man, rather than at the expense of someone else.

Jean Kleyn, meanwhile, has been going about his business effectively all season, while the province's up-tempo style of play has proven he has soft hand and an ability to both carry the ball and shift it on, in keeping with Farrell's gameplan.

It's a tough, ironic twist of fate that four years after his inclusion in the squad was seen as controversial, his omission is now a talking point.

Instead of bringing Kleyn (below) back in for the first time since the 2019 tournament, Farrell has shown faith in Kieran Treadwell, a player that has consistently played well in an Irish shirt when given the opportunity in the last year, even if he hasn't looked the same level in an Ulster jersey.

Front row cards are on the table

One of the only 'surprises' in the squad announcement was the size of it.

It had been expected that Farrell would choose 45 players for the training camp which gets under way on 19 June, rather than the 42 that was announced this afternoon.

As such, this squad contained 10 front rowers, when we would have expected 11 or 12. Dan Sheehan, Ronan Kelleher, Rob Herring and Tom Stewart make the cut at hooker, with one of those set to miss out on the final squad in August.

At prop, Farrell has brought in three looseheads (Andrew Porter, Cian Healy and Dave Kilcoyne), and three tightheads (Tadhg Furlong, Finlay Bealham and Tom O'Toole). Given the squad size has increased from 31 to 33 players since the 2019 tournament in Japan, those six props are likely to all make the final cut for France, barring injury.

It's important to stress 'barring injury' though. Furlong (below) has had issues with calf and ankle injuries across the season, and it feels like a risk not to have a fourth tighthead in the training squad, even if one can be called up at a moment's notice.

The waiting list

In analysing the depth available to each country, the easiest way to do it is to look at the players who haven't made the squad, rather than those that did.

In certain areas of the pitch, the queue to to get in is long and getting longer. In the event of an injury, Jordan Larmour, Robert Baloucoune and Shane Daly could all find themselves dropped into the back three and not look out of place, while Andrew Conway, so crucial to Ireland in the 2022 Six Nations has been sidelined for more than a year.

At out-half, it would have been a major hot take to suggest Joey Carbery would be left out of the squad this time 12 months ago, and the Munster out-half's omission from this training group has barely even registered.

Amid all the calls for John Hodnett's inclusion, it's easy to forget Nick Timoney has paid the price for Ulster's poor form and failed to make the cut, when he's made a big impression in each of his three Test caps.

Likewise, Jean Kleyn isn't the only in-form second row outside the tent, with Ross Molony having consistently performed for Leinster.

On top of that list, you can add the nine players who will be culled from the training squad when Farrell locks in his final 33-player group.

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