The squad for Ireland’s summer series against the USA and Japan was announced yesterday. For what is largely a development team it’s an extremely disappointing representation for Ulster with a measly four players being selected (plus our latest recruit from Connacht).

The Front Row Union Young Player of the Year contenders Jacob Stockdale and Kieran Treadwell get the call-up, alongside the experienced Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall with John Cooney’s involvement giving us an early chance to see how our new half back pairing will perform!

I suppose the main surprise is the absence of, The Front Row Union Player of the Year, Sean Reidy and I would have thought that Herbst would be popping along to get tied to Ireland. (Update – Herbst has been out for a knee operation. Expected back to full fitness by the start of the season.) It looks as though Rodney Ah You’s Ireland career is on hold at the minutes, but a good pre-season will do him no harm at all!

Probably the most exciting inclusion is Leinster’s James Ryan who captained Jacob Stockdale last season in the Ireland U20’s but has been pretty much injured ever since. A lot is, correctly, in my opinion, expected of Ryan who led Ireland to their only U20’s Final including a memorable win against New Zealand before beating them was popular! Stockdale and Ryan are joined by fellow U20’s graduate Andrew Porter who has pushed on well this season.

The other U20’s overperformer from last season’s tournament, Ulster’s Adam McBurney, will be pretty frustrated that he’s been kicking his heels most of this season due to injury!

Apart from the absence of Reidy, there is really not a lot to complain about and it’s a reasonable mix of youth and experience as the fight for places in the 2019 World Cup squad starts in earnest. As for Reidy, if he’s starting for Ulster in what should be a highly competitive back row next season he’ll be starting for Ireland.

The dates for your diary are as follows:


USA v IRELAND Saturday, June 10, kick-off 10 pm UK/IRE. Red Bull Arena, New Jersey

Japan v IRELAND Saturday, June 17, kick-off 6 am UK/IRE. Ecopa Stadium, Shizuoka

Japan v IRELAND Saturday, June 24, kick-off 6.40 am UK/IRE. Ajinomoto Stadium, Tokyo.

We’ll be in Georgia covering the 2017 World Rugby U20’s Championships so if anyone wants to do up reports, with our traditional Ulster bias, on these matches give a shout. Cheers.

Backs (14) Forwards (17)
Joey Carbery (Leinster) 3 caps Finlay Bealham (Connacht) 6 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster) 1 cap Jack Conan (Leinster) 1 cap
John Cooney (Connacht) * Cian Healy (Leinster) 67 caps
Keith Earls (Munster) 59 caps Dave Heffernan (Connacht) *
Paddy Jackson (Ulster) 23 caps Dave Kilcoyne (Munster) 17 caps
Kieran Marmion (Connacht) 13 caps Dan Leavy (Leinster) 2 caps
Luke Marshall (Ulster) 9 caps Tommy O’Donnell (Munster) 12 caps
Luke McGrath (Leinster) 1 cap Jack O’Donoghue (Munster) 1 cap
Tiernan O’Halloran (Connacht) 3 caps Andrew Porter (Leinster) *
Rory O’Loughlin (Leinster) * Rhys Ruddock (Leinster) 13 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster) 8 caps James Ryan (Leinster) *
Rory Scannell (Munster) * John Ryan (Munster) 6 caps
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster) * Niall Scannell (Munster) 4 caps
Simon Zebo (Munster) 33 caps Devin Toner (Leinster) 47 caps
James Tracy (Leinster) 2 caps
Kieran Treadwell (Ulster) *
Josh van der Flier (Leinster) 7 caps