Confirmed: Joe Schmidt names his 31-man Rugby World Cup squad after 'difficult calls'
Darren Cave makes the cut while Andrew Trimble is out
Joe Schmidt has left 2014 Player of the Year Andrew Trimble out of his World Cup squad, opting to take his Ulster colleague Darren Cave instead.
The New Zealander has confirmed his 31-man squad and named Wexford's Tadhg Furlong ahead of Michael Bent after young tighthead made his debut against Wales on Saturday.
Bent had been in the frame to travel as a back-up on both sides of the front-row, but the coach will now have three tighthead and two loosehead props, with Cian Healy set to make his return to action against England this weekend.
Along with Bent, Marty Moore misses out after suffering a foot injury that has kept him sidelined so far this season, with Furlong joining Nathan White as back-up to Mike Ross.
Schmidt is set to make a calculated gamble on leaving Isaac Boss out of his squad and going with just two recognised scrum-halves, with Ian Madigan covering the Nos 9, 10 and 12 jerseys.
Trimble, Felix Jones and Fergus McFadden are among those to be disappointed as the coach hands Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Dave Kearney and Tommy Bowe an opportunity on the wing, while Cave covers Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne in the centre.
The selection of Earls and Fitzgerald suggests the face and glute injuries they suffered respectively against Wales are not long-term problems, with Schmidt set to give an update on those injuries today.
Paul O'Connell will lead the squad in England and Wales after making his final appearance for Ireland on home soil last weekend, with Donnacha Ryan also making the plane after making a successful return from his foot problem.
Ireland Head Coach, Joe Schmidt, confirmed that selecting the squad was one of the most difficult tasks the coaching group have faced: "The players have worked incredibly hard over the past two months. Sunday was a difficult and very long day for the coaching team and an anxious one for many players. There were some very tight decisions, particularly in the back three and it was also a challenge to make sure that key positions were covered as much as a squad of 31 players allows.
"A number of players were very unlucky to miss selection. We know from observing past World Cups that it's important for us to keep track of their performances because some of them are likely to be involved in the tournament.”
Ireland kick off their campaign against Canada in three weeks' time, with this week's clash with England their final warm-up.
31-man Ireland squad for the 2015 World Cup:
Forwards: Rory Best, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Iain Henderson, Paul O’Connell (capt), Jamie Heaslip, Chris Henry, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Sean O’Brien, Peter O’Mahony, Mike Ross, Donnacha Ryan, Richardt Strauss, Devin Toner, Nathan White.
Backs: Tommy Bowe, Darren Cave, Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Dave Kearney, Rob Kearney, Robbie Henshaw, Paddy Jackson, Ian Madigan, Conor Murray, Jared Payne, Eoin Reddan, Johnny Sexton, Simon Zebo.
Source: Irish Independent