Schmidt leaves out Zebo
Simon Zebo (Getty Images)
London - Simon Zebo was the most notable omission when Ireland coach Joe Schmidt named a 34-man squad on Monday for their opening two matches of the Six Nations at home to Scotland and Wales.
Dashing wing Zebo has regained fitness following a foot injury sustained in October, while fellow flyer Craig Gilroy was also called up to the Ireland camp last week after suffering a suspected concussion playing for Ulster in the European Cup against Montpellier this month.
Both played for the reserve Ireland Wolfhounds in their 14-8 win over second-string counterparts England Saxons on Saturday but did not do enough to impress Schmidt ahead of the New Zealander's first Six Nations in charge of his adopted country.
However, the duo could feature later in the tournament, with Luke Fitzgerald, Andrew Trimble, Fergus McFadden and Dave Kearney all vying for a place on the wing in Ireland's Six Nations opener against Scotland in Dublin on Sunday.
Meanwhile the uncapped forward trio of Cardiff Blues' Robin Copeland and Leinster pair Jordi Murphy and Martin Moore all made it into Schimdt's slimmed-down squad.
And with a growing injury list that has een utility back Keith Earls ruled out of the entire tournament, there was some good news for Schmidt when star fly-half Jonathan Sexton, the British and Irish Lions pivot in their 2-1 series win in Australia last year, appeared to come through injury-free after playing a key role in his French club Racing Metro's 25-5 win over Toulouse in the Top 14 championship clash on Saturday.
After facing Scotland, Ireland have a six-day turnaround before defending champions Wales arrive at Dublin's Lansdowne Road on February 8.
Ireland squad to play Scotland and Wales:
Darren Cave (Ulster), Gordon D'Arcy (Leinster), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster), Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Paddy Jackson (Ulster), Felix Jones (Munster), Rob Kearney (Leinster), David Kearney (Leinster), Ian Madigan (Leinster), Luke Marshall (Ulster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster), Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro 92/FRA), Andrew Trimble (Ulster)
Rory Best (Ulster), Robin Copeland (Cardiff Blues/WAL), Sean Cronin (Leinster) Cian Healy (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Chris Henry (Ulster), Mike McCarthy (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Martin Moore (Leinster), Jordi Murphy (Leinster), Paul O'Connell (Munster), Tommy O'Donnell (Munster), Peter O'Mahony (Munster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Rhys Ruddock (Leinster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster)