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Only three Ulster aces get call to take on Saxons

By Niall Crozier

A 22-man O2 Ireland Wolfhounds squad has been named for the game against England Saxons.

The group is made up of promising young players — eight of them uncapped — and those with experience at full international-level. That is provided by men like Luke Fitzgerald, Tomas O’Leary, Isaac Boss and John Muldoon.

Nevin Spence — one of only three Ulstermen in the 22 — is among the octet as yet uncapped for the seniors.

The Wolfhounds’ first outing is against England Saxons at Sandy Park on January 28. The Ireland squad — from which the team to play Wales in the RBS Six Nations Championship curtain-raiser in Dublin on February 5 — will be selected after that game.

The team to face the Welsh will then be announced on Monday, January 30. Ireland coach Declan Kidney sees that January 28 Wolfhounds game as being hugely important to his Championship preparations.

“It gives myself and the other coaches one final chance to give games to players to see possible options before we settle on our match-day 22 for the opening game of the Championship,” Kidney said. “It also gives us the op

portunity to have a closer look in training at some of the younger players, rather than bringing in more experienced players, who are very much still in the frame for selection.”

Kidney’s Ulster counterpart, Brian McLaughlin, made no secret of his disappointment that several of his Ravenhill players had not fared better in the selection process, however.

Chris Henry and Dan Tuohy were two he had hoped might make the senior squad, while he also felt Paul Marshall was in contention for Wolfhounds call.

Instead Henry and Tuohy have been named in the Wolfhounds, while Marshall has missed out altogether. “Dan Tuohy has been exceptional, certainly last week. He’s had a great season so I’m a bit disappointed that he’s not pushed up again into the senior squad,” McLaughlin said of his second row who, like Henry, has one senior cap.

IRELAND WOLFHOUNDS: Stephen Archer (Munster)*, Isaac Boss (Leinster), Gavin Duffy (Connacht), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster), Chris Henry (Ulster), Denis Hurley (Munster), David Kearney (Leinster)*, Ian Keatley (Munster), Ronan Loughney (Connacht)* Ian Madigan (Leinster)*, Mike McCarthy (Connacht), Kevin McLaughlin (Leinster), John Muldoon (Connacht), Tomas O'Leary (Munster), Eoin O'Malley (Leinster)*, Rhys Ruddock (Leinster), Mike Sherry (Munster)*, Nevin Spence (Ulster)*, Devin Toner (Leinster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster), Damien Varley (Munster), Brett Wilkinson (Connacht)* *uncapped

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