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Schmidt happy to delay Ireland captain decision

By Conor George

Joe Schmidt is unlikely to announce a captain for the November series of internationals until the squad assembles for those games.

The Ireland coach has indicated that he has a number of candidates in mind. These include Brian O'Driscoll, Paul O'Connell and Jamie Heaslip. It is probable he will select from that trio but is not expected to do so at next week's training camp.

Schmidt yesterday announced a 42-strong squad for a camp in Carton House on Sunday and Monday and included a number of surprises while also omitting a few players who would have expected to be included, not least Lions player number 806 Tom Court.

This is a preliminary squad as Schmidt begins preparations for the November series of internationals but it is hard to see a way back for Court with Cian Healy, Dave Kilcoyne and now Leinster's Jack McGrath rated ahead of him in the Irish set-up.

To be fair, Court's selection as a replacement Lion was on the basis of convenience.

He was on holiday with his family in his native Brisbane in Australia when the Lions needed cover. He was a 55th minute replacement in the game against the Melbourne Rebels.

The Ireland coach acknowledged that selecting the squad was not a straight-forward exercise as he cut the number down from the 52 players he called in for camp in August.

"Selection was difficult as it's the first time we have had to narrow our focus a bit and determine a cut off point for players," he said.

"A number of selections were very tight which is positive. The group is predominantly 'tried and proven' but with some newer faces as well.

"It's an opportunity to get to know the players as well as an opportunity to have a look ahead and start to get a little bit of organisation done for the Guinness Series."

Belfast Telegraph


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