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Cooney has Six Nations in his sights


Battle for position: Ulster scrum half John Cooney
Battle for position: Ulster scrum half John Cooney
Ireland incumbent Conor Murray
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster's star man John Cooney is set to seriously challenge Munster's Conor Murray for the Ireland No.9 shirt after being recalled to the international set-up by new head coach Andy Farrell.

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Dubliner Cooney has been excelling for Ulster this season at scrum-half following the bitter disappointment of being left out of Joe Schmidt's World Cup squad and is pushing hard for Six Nations selection.

In total, nine Ulster players have been called up by Farrell for this weekend's international squad get-together.

Something of a stock take following the World Cup and before the Six Nations begins in February, there have been some notable calls made by the former defence coach who is replacing Schmidt after the Kiwi's six years at the helm came to an end after the World Cup.

The usual suspects Iain Henderson and Jacob Stockdale have naturally been included, as have Will Addison and Stuart McCloskey, both of whom missed out on the World Cup under Schmidt.

Rob Herring is there too, having been a replacement out in Japan, while there are first national involvements for fly-half Billy Burns and young prop Tom O'Toole. Jordi Murphy has been left out.

O'Toole's fellow tighthead Marty Moore has also been included, having not played for Ireland since he left Leinster for Wasps back in 2016.

Ulster defence coach Jared Payne said: "It's good, the guys deserve a chance and it's good to get a run down there. It's a great reward for those guys to get a taste of that, Tommy especially."

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