Ireland coach Andy Farrell has named five uncapped players in an extended 40-man squad for their three-test tour of New Zealand that will gauge both nations’ progress ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Exciting young lock Joe McCarthy has been included along with Leinster team mates, centre Ciaran Frawley and winger Jimmy O’Brien (wing), with Munster prop Jeremy Loughman and Connacht loose forward Cian Prendergast rounding out the uncapped picks.
Hooker Ronan Kelleher, winger Andrew Conway, Robert Baloucoune and centre Chris Farrell have been omitted from the Johnny Sexton-captained squad due to injuries.
The series kicks off at Eden Park on July 2, with tests in Dunedin and Wellington over the following two weeks.
The Irish will warm up for the first test with a match against the Maori All Blacks in Hamilton on June 29 and play another mid-week fixture against them on July 12 in Wellington.
“This is the start of our Rugby World Cup campaign and it is going to be a fantastic challenge for our group facing five massive tests across the three weeks,” said Farrell in a media release.
It will be Ireland’s first southern hemisphere tour since beating Australia 2-1 in 2018 and their first to New Zealand since 2012.
“Due to COVID we haven’t had an opportunity to tour, and touring plays a massive role in teams gelling together and building cohesion on and off the field,” added Farrell.
Connacht coach Peter Wilkins will join Farrell’s staff as an assistant for the duration of the tour.
Ireland beat the All Blacks 29-20 in Dublin last November but have never beaten the hosts in New Zealand.
The Irish can expect a testing warm-up against the Maori All Blacks, with their coach Clayton McMillan naming a slew of internationals in a squad released on Wednesday.
Seasoned scrumhalves TJ Perenara and Brad Weber, and prop Tyrel Lomax, were included along with one-test fullback Josh Ioane in the representative side which beat Ireland 31-28 in Rotorua in their last meeting in 2010.
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