DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland coach Joe Schmidt mixed youth and experience by including seven uncapped players in his extended 44-man squad for the Six Nations on Tuesday.
Cardiff Blues forward Robin Copeland is among the new additions, alongside New Zealand-born prop Rodney Ah You, Robbie Diack, Rob Herring, Martin Moore and Jordi Murphy. Kieran Marmion is the sole uncapped player in the backline.
"As always, a number of the selections were very tight," Schmidt said. "There is an experienced core of players in the squad who will offer continuity, as well as some new additions who have been selected with an eye to the future."
Ireland opens its campaign at home to Scotland on Feb. 2 before hosting defending champion Wales. Schmidt says Richardt Strauss, Donnacha Ryan, Roger Wilson, Tommy Bowe, Simon Zebo, Declan Fitzpatrick and Craig Gilroy — who was injured in Ulster's victory over Montpellier in the Heineken Cup last week — have been left out but may return if they recover in time.
"A number of players currently injured or returning from injury will remain with their provinces to gain further recovery time or game-time," Schmidt said. "Some of these players may yet return for 6 Nations matches."
Sean O'Brien, Stephen Ferris, Mike Sherry and Stuart Olding, though, "will be unavailable in the longer term" and are unlikely to make the tournament.
Extended Ireland squad:
Forwards: Rodney Ah You, Stephen Archer, Rory Best, Robin Copeland, Sean Cronin, Robbie Diack, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Rob Herring, David Kilcoyne, Mike McCarthy, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Jordi Murphy, Paul O'Connell, Tommy O'Donnell, Peter O'Mahony, Mike Ross, Rhys Ruddock, Devin Toner, Dan Tuohy, Damien Varley.
Backs: Isaac Boss, Darren Cave, Gordon D'Arcy, Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Robbie Henshaw, Paddy Jackson, Felix Jones, David Kearney, Rob Kearney, Ian Keatley, Ian Madigan, Kieran Marmion, Luke Marshall, Fergus McFadden, Conor Murray, Brian O'Driscoll, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton, Andrew Trimble.