Alan Quinlan is still an option for Ireland at the World Cup next year, coach Declan Kidney insisted yesterday when he named his team to take on the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday.
The 35-year-old Munster back-row was not included in the squad to tour New Zealand and Australia and not called out following the injury to John Muldoon and the suspension of Jamie Heaslip— Rhys Ruddock got the nod — but Kidney says Quinlan has not been ruled out for New Zealand 2011.
Ireland's starting back row of Shane Jennings, Niall Ronan and debutant Chris Henry have a combined total of 10 caps, with the uncapped 19-year-old Leinster flanker Ruddock providing cover on the bench.
With Kidney minus seven back-rows that have played for Ireland this season, Quinlan's experience and line-out ability would have been invaluable against the Wallabies and the Ireland coach said he did consider calling up the Tipperary man before bringing Ruddock across from the U-20 World Cup in Argentina.
“I had serious thoughts about bringing Alan over,” said Kidney.
“I know that Quinny can be an option for us for the World Cup if he has a good year this year, but we're three weeks into the off-season, we've fellas who have been training regularly, there's the travel over.
“There's other guys like Neil Best and Roger Wilson — I could have brought in guys like that, but once you start off on tour you try to look at individual performances too.”
Jonathan Sexton starts at out-half and Kidney said it was a tough decision to deny Ronan O'Gara the opportunity to lead Ireland out for his 100th cap, while in-form Tony Buckley starts at tight-head ahead of 102-cap veteran John Hayes.
“Yeah, it certainly is (a tough call), but he'd be the last person that would want emotion to come into the whole thing. You have to do what you think is right. To leave John Hayes out after what, 102 caps, and there's probably only been 105 (Tests) in that time. But yeah, it was tough.”