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Will powers his way into Schmidt's World Cup plans



Ulster's Will Addison

Ulster's Will Addison

©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Ulster's Will Addison

Ulster's Will Addison has been rewarded for his flying early form at his new province with a call-up to the Ireland squad for next month's autumn internationals.

And the 26-year-old, who is Irish qualified through his Fermanagh-born mother, will be out to impress Joe Schmidt with the World Cup in Japan coming up next year.

Addison arrived in Belfast this summer after establishing himself with Sale and has been especially impressive at both full-back and centre.

He has already trained with the Ireland squad - out in Australia last summer and again at Carton House in August - but is now set to make his international bow in the coming weeks.

With Ireland playing four games in November, and starting with Italy in Chicago on Saturday week, Schmidt has named an extended 42-man panel, with Addison one of only three uncapped players in the group, the others being former Ulster centre Sam Arnold and Leinster number ten Ross Byrne.

Seven of Addison's Ulster team-mates have also been included, but the side's assistant coach Dan Soper says their inclusion does not rule them out of tomorrow night's PRO14 clash with Dragons at Kingspan Stadium (7.55pm kick-off).

Stuart McCloskey, who has two caps to his name having made his debut in 2016, was another rewarded for his strong showings in the white jersey, while John Cooney and Rob Herring were both included in the panel despite recent injuries.

The usual suspects of skipper Rory Best, Jacob Stockdale and Iain Henderson are all in the panel too with another recent signing, Jordi Murphy, rounding out the Ulster contingent.

One player who will not feature is star scrum-half Conor Murray who has yet to play this season. The Munster man had not previously commented on the neck injury that has been keeping him out but yesterday revealed he expects to return in the coming weeks.

"The reason we kept it quiet at the start is because we didn't know what it was," said Murray at a Pinergy event.

"That was my whole thinking behind it, it wasn't ever the whole data protection or me keeping it secret.

"It was, 'Look, I don't know what this is yet fully, I don't know when I'm going to be back, so let's just say I'm managing an injury'."

"From my side, I said 'Let's just keep it here and say I'm managing an injury until we find out how long it's going to take'.

"I think a week or two later, we said it was a neck injury, that we were managing my neck injury and then by the time we said that, the rumour mill had started, everything had snowballed and it was just this big deal.

"I'm itching to play, I'm pretty much fully training and I feel good. It's just making sure it's right and the lines of communication with Munster, the IRFU, the national coaches, everyone has been clear and they're happy I just get it right and make sure I come back ready to go, rather than pushing it.

"This isn't an injury you can push, it's in my neck and you've just to make sure it's strong enough to come back and play professional rugby."

Commenting on his selections, Schmidt said: "As always there have been a number of close calls in selection, meaning that some very good players have missed out in this particular window.

"The upcoming series offers an exciting opportunity for the squad but will also be very challenging."

Italy yesterday revealed their full match-day 23 for the game in Soldier Field against Ireland, with number ten Ian McKinley, who lost sight in one eye while representing Leinster and now plays in protective goggles, set to be on the bench against the nation of his birth.

IRELAND SQUAD FOR THE NOVEMBER TEST SERIES, FORWARDS: R Best (Ulster, captain), F Bealham (Connacht), T Beirne (Munster), J Conan, S Cronin, T Furlong, C Healy (all Leinster), I Henderson, R Herring (both Ulster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), D Leavy, J McGrath (both Leinster), J Murphy (Ulster), S O'Brien (Leinster), P O'Mahony (Munster), A Porter (Leinster), Q Roux (Connacht), R Ruddock, James Ryan (both Leinster), John Ryan, N Scannell, CJ Stander (all Munster), D Toner, J van der Flier (both Leinster).

BACKS: W Addison (Ulster), B Aki (Connacht), S Arnold (Munster), R Byrne (Leinster), J Carbery, A Conway (both Munster), J Cooney (Ulster), K Earls (Munster), R Henshaw, R Kearney, J Larmour (all Leinster), K Marmion (Connacht), S McCloskey (Ulster), L McGrath, G Ringrose, J Sexton (all Leinster), J Stockdale (Ulster), D Sweetnam (Munster)

Belfast Telegraph