Kiwi axed from Ireland squad
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Ireland coach Andy Farrell has named two uncapped players – Ulster’s Michael Lowry and Connacht’s Mack Hansen – in his 37-strong squad for the upcoming Six Nations campaign, which starts with a home match versus Wales in Dublin on February 5.
There was also no place for James Lowe – a starter in all three wins last November and a try-scorer versus the All Blacks and Japan.
The New Zealander’s Test career since qualifying for Ireland under residency had been plagued by criticisms of his defence, but Lowe appeared to put those doubts behind him with his form in the year-end Tests.
He made three appearances for schedule-hit Leinster since then, scoring in their two European matches, but he has now been deemed surplus to requirement by Farrell.
Both Lowry and Hansen trained with the national squad in the past few months, Lowry during last July’s mid-year series and Hansen during the year-end Tests.
Injured Munster flyhalf Joey Carbery is included in the squad that is captained by Johnny Sexton, but Connacht’s Jack Carty is the third No.10 on this occasion, getting the nudge on Harry Byrne who was capped off the bench versus Argentina.
Cian Prendergast, Carty’s provincial colleague, will also join the squad for the training camp in Portugal as a development player.
“In November we challenged the group to get up to speed quickly so that the team could perform at international level,” Farrell said.
“The same will apply for this Six Nations campaign, we need to be at our best against Wales on the opening weekend.
“We have a strong squad with competition for places across the board, there is a nice blend of experienced internationals and guys who have had their first taste of this level in the past twelve months.
“The games in November gave us a good foundation to build on and areas where we know we will have to improve. It will be an exciting championship with so many strong squads and impressive performances across the board during the year-end.”
Ireland’s opening fixture of the 2022 Six Nations Championship is against Wales on Saturday, February 5.
A week later the squad will travel to France to take on Les Bleus in Paris.
In Round Three, on Sunday, February 27, Ireland host Italy and then travel to Twickenham to take on England two weeks later.
In the final round of the championship Ireland host Scotland on Saturday March 19.
Backs: Bundee Aki, Robert Baloucoune, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Craig Casey, Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Jamison Gibson Park, Mack Hansen, Robbie Henshaw, James Hume, Hugo Keenan, Jordan Larmour, Michael Lowry, Conor Murray, Garry Ringrose, Johnny Sexton (captain).
Forwards: Ryan Baird, Finlay Bealham, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Gavin Coombes, Caelan Doris, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Peter O’Mahony, Tom O’Toole, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Dan Sheehan, Nick Timoney, Kieran Treadwell, Josh van der Flier.
Development player: Cian Prendergast