Ireland coach Declan Kidney has named a 33-strong training squad for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations Championship opener against last seasons’ Grand Slam winners, Wales, in Cardiff.
Eleven of the O2 Ireland Wolfhounds side that were beaten 14-10 by England Saxons on Friday night in Galway are retained in the squad.
They include Ulster fly-half Paddy Jackson and Connacht centre Dave McSharry.
Although both players picked up minor injuries against the Saxons, they were able to join up with the rest of the squad last night at Carton House, Co Kildare and hope to be involved on Saturday.
Jackson is one of seven Ulster players in the hunt for a role in the 6 Nations, the others being hooker Rory Best, props Tom Court and Declan Fitzpatrick, wing Craig Gilroy, lock/back row forward Iain Henderson and openside Chris Henry.
But Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Paul Marshall and Lewis Stevenson — all of whom played on Friday night — did not make the cut.
And, due to injury, Ulster’s fellow-Lions Tommy Bowe and Stephen Ferris were not considered at this stage, though provided he can prove he has recovered from pre-Christmas ankle surgery Ferris is hopeful of being called up mid-way through the five-match series.
Ireland squad: Michael Bent, Rory Best, Tom Court, Sean Cronin, Gordon D’Arcy, Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Declan Fitzpatrick, Craig Gilroy, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip (captain), Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Paddy Jackson, Rob Kearney, David Kilcoyne, Conor Murray, Mike McCarthy, Kevin McLaughlin, Fergus McFadden, Dave McSharry
Sean O’Brien, Donncha O'Callaghan, Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O'Gara, Peter O’Mahony, Eoin Reddan, Mike Ross, Donnacha Ryan, Jonathan Sexton, Mike Sherry, Devin Toner, Simon Zebo.