Mixed Irish fortunes for injured Ulster duo
From an Ulster standpoint, there are two calls Joe Schmidt has made which immediately stand out from the crowd in the make-up of his 34-man squad for Saturday week's clash with New Zealand at Chicago's Soldier Field.
One is the inclusion of Iain Henderson despite the fact that he is currently rehabbing a shoulder injury sustained against Exeter Chiefs last Friday, while the other concerns Stuart Olding who picked up a hip flexor problem in the same game and hasn't been named in Schmidt's squad for the beginning of the Autumn series.
Henderson failed to emerge for the second half against the Chiefs and it was mentioned by Les Kiss that he could be out for two to four weeks, so appearing in the squad preparing to cross the Atlantic to meet the All Blacks suggests that the back-five forward is not as bad as was feared.
As for Olding, it would appear that his issue is more serious and therefore explains his omission which, if is the case, is another major blow for the 23-year-old to absorb.
Schmidt has named a total of seven Ulster players in his squad with skipper Rory Best being joined by Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Paddy Jackson, Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy and, of course, Henderson.
There is no place for Tommy Bowe who last featured in a green shirt at the World Cup, when he shipped a serious knee injury, and has barely been with the senior side this season.
Other omissions include veteran tight-head prop Mike Ross, which looks like a significant call against the ageing cornerstone of Ireland's pack, and Ian Madigan, though the latter was never likely to be on board for this first All Blacks game.
Despite his two-week ban, Keith Earls has also been included.
Schmidt has named six uncapped players and they are Leinster's Joe Carbery, Garry Ringrose, Luke McGrath and James Tracy while Munster supply two in Billy Holland and John Ryan.
With Jonathan Sexton declaring himself fit to cross swords with the World Cup holders, Jackson would appear to be heading towards the bench with a more likely starting slot coming against Canada, though Schmidt may give Carbery a run-out there.
The squad will gather in Carton House on Sunday and - injury permitting from those involved in this weekend's PRO12 games - Schmidt's original picks will depart for Chicago the following day.
Ireland squad: F Bealham, R Best (capt), J Carbery, S Cronin, U Dillane, K Earls, T Furlong, C Gilroy, C Healy, J Heaslip (vice-capt), I Henderson, R Henshaw, B Holland, P Jackson, R Kearney, K Marmion, L Marshall, J McGrath, L McGrath, J Murphy, C Murray, S O'Brien, P O'Mahony, J Payne, G Ringrose, D Ryan J Ryan, J Sexton, CJ Stander, D Toner, J Tracy, A Trimble, J van der Flier, S Zebo