Ireland call up Connacht's Jack Carty, Caolin Blade and Tom Farrell for Six Nations
Dan Leavy not included but could join back-row for later rounds when fully fit
Last Updated: 16/01/19 5:55pm
Ireland have called up Connacht's uncapped trio Jack Carty, Caolin Blade and Tom Farrell for their Six Nations openers against England and Scotland.
Carty has been picked ahead of his Leinster counterpart Ross Byrne by head coach Joe Schmidt in a 38-man squad for the first two rounds of the Six Nations, with Ireland kicking off against England on February 2.
"Johnny Sexton is making good progress while Joey Carbery and Jack Carty have both performed consistently well so far this season," Schmidt said.
"Ross Byrne is unlucky in an incredibly tight call. He is still definitely in our thinking and will continue to press for inclusion through the Six Nations and beyond, while Billy Burns has also fitted in really well for Ulster this season."
Carty will join team-mate Blade, who has been named as one of the three scrum-halves in the squad, along with Munster's Conor Murray and John Cooney of Ulster.
The 24-year-old comes into the squad following injuries to Luke McGrath, who is out for up to eight weeks with a knee ligament injury, and Kieran Marmion, who remains out with an ankle injury he suffered against the All Blacks in November.
There is no place for Dan Leavy in the back-row, though, as Schmidt name-checked 25 "close calls" in all.
Schmidt's 25-man squad of 'close calls'
- Finlay Bealham
- Marty Moore
- Stephen Archer
- Rob Herring
- Denis Buckley
- Ed Byrne
- Eric O'Sullivan
- Quinn Roux
- Gavin Thornbury
- Fineen Wycherley
- Kieran Treadwell
- Billy Holland
- Dan Leavy
- Sean Reidy
- Tommy O'Donnell
- Ross Byrne
- Billy Burns
- Rory Scannell
- Stuart McCloskey
- Sammy Arnold
- Rory O'Loughlin
- Adam Byrne
- Dave Kearney
- Mike Haley
- Darren Sweetnam
"Those selected could well be joined by Dan Leavy once he's fully fit," Schmidt said.
"Sean Reidy continues to be all action for Ulster and Tommy O'Donnell is starting to get back to top form as well after his recent return from injury. 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."
Ireland host England on the opening weekend of the 2019 Six Nations before heading to Murrayfield to face Scotland.
Full Ireland squad
Forwards: Rory Best (captain), Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Sean Cronin, Ultan Dillane, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Iain Henderson, Dave Kilcoyne, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Sean O'Brien, Peter O'Mahony, Andrew Porter, Rhys Ruddock, James Ryan, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, CJ Stander, Devin Toner, Josh Van Der Flier
Backs: Will Addison, Bundee Aki, Caolin Blade, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Andrew Conway, John Cooney, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Tom Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Conor Murray, Garry Ringrose, Johnny Sexton, Jacob Stockdale