London - Leinster pair Cian Healy and Sean O'Brien were named in the
provisional 46-man Ireland Six Nations squad announced by coach Joe
Schmidt on Thursday despite both suffering from injuries.
Flank O'Brien, 27, has not played for his country since hurting his
shoulder in Ireland's 24-22 loss to New Zealand in November 2013, but
is nearing fitness after undergoing two operations.
Prop Healy, also 27, suffered a severe hamstring tear last September,
but both players are in contention to feature for the second-string
Irish Wolfhounds against England Saxons on January 30.
"The coaching group have tried to strike a balance between some
players getting the chance to fully complete their rehabilitation
programmes, or get a bit of rest, and others getting the opportunity to
push their claims with further game time in the Wolfhounds fixture,"
Schmidt said in a statement released by the Irish Rugby Football Union
Connacht prop Nathan White and Leinster back-rower Jack Conan were the only uncapped players called up by Schmidt.
New Zealand-born White, 33, was due to make his Ireland debut during
the November internationals, only to rupture a tendon in his arm.
Racing Metro flyhalf Johnny Sexton, Munster scrumhalf Conor Murray
and Connacht centre Robbie Henshaw were all included despite injury
Ireland will be missing a number of first-team players due to injury
when they open the defence of their Six Nations title against Italy in
Rome on February 7.
Chris Henry, Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding, Dan Tuohy and Damien
Varley have all been left out of the squad, while Robin Copeland, Dave
Kilcoyne, Luke Marshall, Donncha Ryan and Andrew Trimble have been
placed on standby.
Ireland training squad for the 2015 Six Nations:
Forwards: Michael Bent (Leinster), Rory Best (Ulster), Jack Conan,
Sean Cronin (both Leinster), James Cronin (Munster), Robbie Diack
(Ulster), Dave Foley (Munster), Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip (both
Leinster), Iain Henderson, Rob Herring (both Ulster), Mike McCarthy,
Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Jordi Murphy, Sean O'Brien (all Leinster),
Paul O'Connell, Tommy O'Donnell, Peter O'Mahony (all Munster), Mike
Ross, Rhys Ruddock, Dominic Ryan, Richardt Strauss, Devin Toner (all
Leinster), Nathan White (Connacht)
Backs: Isaac Boss (Leinster), Tommy Bowe, Darren Cave (both Ulster),
Gordon D'Arcy (Leinster), Keith Earls (Munster), Luke Fitzgerald
(Leinster), Craig Gilroy (Ulster), Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Felix
Jones (Munster), Dave Kearney, Rob Kearney (both Leinster), Ian Keatley
(Munster), Ian Madigan (Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Connacht), Fergus
McFadden (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster), Jared Payne (Ulster), Eoin
Reddan, Noel Reid (both Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro/FRA),
Simon Zebo (Munster)