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Six Ulster players included as Ireland coach Joe Schmidt names World Cup training squad

Ireland captain Rory Best
Ireland captain Rory Best
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Six Ulster players have been named in Joe Schmidt's 44-man World Cup training squad, although fans will question the omission of the province's Player of the Year Stuart McCloskey.

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Captain Rory Best is joined by fellow forward Iain Henderson, Rob Herring and Jordi Murphy while Jacob Stockdale is named among the backs along with John Cooney. Prop Jack MGrath, who will move to Ulster this summer, is also in the panel.

Fivemiletown man Chris Farrell, who plays for Munster, is included but his rise to prominence has contributed to the omission of Stuart McCloskey. He had been hoping to play his way into Schmidt's plans after winning his third cap against the USA in November.

Many Ulster supporters will feel McCloskey had done enough as his displays earned the province's Player of the Year and the Supporters' Player of the Year titles. The 26-year-old was also named, alongside Cooney, in the PRO14 Dream Team.

Coach Joe Schmidt did confirm that 'one or two' players may be added to the panel at a later date with some missing out through injury.

One of those is Will Addison, who made his Ireland debut during the Austumn Internationals but has been out of action since January, after suffering lower back stiffness in Ireland training for the Six Nations.

Ulster confirmed last month that the centre would miss the remainder of the province's season after undergoing back surgery, although hoped he would return in time for pre-season.

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While the Ireland panel has named Leinster duo Sean O'Brien and Dan Leavy as 'unavailable due to injury', there is no mention of Addison.

The other most notable absentee in Connacht lock Quinn Roux, who is left out to accomodate Munster's Jean Kleyn. The South African is due to become Irish qualified in time for the World Cup warm-up fixtures and has made it into Schmidt's panel alongside fellow Munster man Mike Haley. English full-back Haley qualifies to represent Ireland through jhis grandmother from Tralee.

"There were some very close calls in selection and it’s always a challenging process because the coaching group are very conscious of how hard the players work," said Schmidt. "It’s ideal that they get a good opportunity to relax for a few weeks before getting stuck into pre-season training and  busy ‘Summer Series’ in the lead up to the World Cup."

The Ireland training camps are due to begin next month ahead of the warm-up games.

Ireland are due to host Italy at Aviva Stadium on August 10 before trips to England on August 24 and Wales a week later. The warm-up games conclude with the visit of Wales to Dublin on September 7.

The nation's World Cup campaign begins against Scotland on September 22.

Ireland World Cup Training Squad

Forwards (24)

Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht) 9 caps

Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 117 caps

Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster) 5 caps

Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 14 caps

Sean Cronin (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 68 caps

Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht) 14 caps

Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 33 caps

Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 88 caps

Iain Henderson (Queens University/Ulster) 44 caps

Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 7 caps

Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 29 caps

Jean Kleyn (Munster)*

Jack McGrath (St Marys College/Leinster) 54 caps

Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Ulster) 27 caps

Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster) 12 caps

Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 57 caps

Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 14 caps

Rhys Ruddock (Lansdowne/Leinster) 21 caps

James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps

John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 18 caps

Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 14 caps

CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 31 caps

Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 64 caps

Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps

Backs (20)

Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 17 caps

Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 2 caps

Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 18 caps

Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 3 caps

Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 12 caps

John Cooney (Terenure College/Ulster) 8 caps

Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 77 caps

Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) 5 caps

Mike Haley (Munster)*

Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 37 caps

Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster) 17 caps

Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 90 caps

Jordan Larmour (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 13 caps

Kieran Marmion (Galwegians/Connacht) 25 caps

Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 10 caps

Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 72 caps

Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 20 caps

Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 3 caps

Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 83 caps

Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 19 caps

*denoted uncapped player

Unavailable due to injury

Dan Leavy (UCD/Leinster)

Sean O’Brien (Tullow/Leinster)

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