Ireland squad for New Zealand tour may feature at least six uncapped players
"I would love to see him get on the plane to New Zealand. He deserves it."
On Tuesday, Andy Farrell will name this Ireland squad for this summer's five-game tour. The players all know by now, but the wider public will discover the full squad, shortly before Farrell sits down for a virtual press briefing.
With three Tests against New Zealand and two midweek fixtures against the Maori All Blacks, the Ireland coach is expected to bring between 40 and 42 players.
On the latest House of Rugby [LISTEN from 41:25 below], Greg O'Shea, Lindsay Peat and Jason Hennessy were joined by Connacht and Ireland winger Mack Hansen. As well as asking him about All Blacks match-ups, they pressed the case for a couple of players Andy Farrell will be considering to tour.
Andy Farrell set to include some fresh faces
Earlier in the season, on House of Rugby, Greg O'Shea, Jason Hennessy and James Tracy discussed candidates to make that Ireland squad for the summer.
While Hennessy advocated for Connacht flanker Conor Oliver to get a call-up, and O'Shea mentioned Munster duo Gavin Coombes and Fineen Wycherley, James Tracy made the case for Leinster teammates Ross Molony, Joe McCarthy and Ross Byrne. He adds:
"It's New Zealand you're touring, so you don't want to get hosed. I'd say it will be a mixture of blooding some young guys and a good few experienced lads."
With the Irish provinces now wrapped for the season - Leinster and Ulster fell at the United Rugby Championship semi-final stage - all that remains are preparations for the tour to face Ian Foster's men in New Zealand.
O'Shea and Hennessy discussed a couple of Ulster centres that made consistent cases to get on that plane to Auckland. O'Shea commented:
"Stuart McCloskey had an unbelievable game. I would love to see him get on the plane to New Zealand. He deserves it... Him and James Hume are playing great. The lines they're cutting are just so good to see. The only issue is, I don't know how all these centres can go, as so many are playing well."
"He's having one of his best seasons in a long time," Hennessy agreed. "He's not just a threat, using his size. You are expecting him to come at you, but he also has lovely hands... he's just creating space for others.
Since we first had a crack at predicting a 42-man squad for the tour to New Zealand, back in March, the inevitable injuries and dates with the surgeon's knife have struck.
From our original selection, Dave Kilcoyne (neck) is definitely out, while Rónan Kelleher (shoulder), Rob Baloucoune (hip) and Michael Lowry (facial injury) are all doubtful. Jack Carty (wrist) is out of contention after undergoing surgery.
Loosehead, second row and centre will all be fascinating areas of selection. There will be a few surprises, no doubt, with our list even omitting the excellent likes of Stuart McCloskey, Jimmy O'Brien, Conor Oliver and Jack O'Donoghue.
If Ireland can bring most of these men [below], they could well take at least one of the three Tests against the All Blacks.
POSSIBLE IRELAND SQUAD [Uncapped players in italics]
HOOKERS: Dan Sheehan, Rob Herring, Dave Heffernan
LOOSEHEADS: Andrew Porter, Cian Healy, Jeremy Loughman
TIGHTHEADS: Tadhg Furlong, Finlay Bealham, Tom O'Toole
LOCKS: Tadhg Beirne, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Ryan Baird, Ross Molony, Joe McCarthy
BACK-ROWS: Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan, Peter O'Mahony, Nick Timoney, Gavin Coombes, Alex Kendellen, Cian Prendergast
SCRUM-HALVES: Jamison Gibson Park, Conor Murray, Craig Casey
OUT-HALVES: Johnny Sexton, Joey Carbery, Harry Byrne
CENTRES: Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Hume, Ciarán Frawley
WINGERS: James Lowe, Mack Hansen, Andrew Conway, Jordan Larmour, Robert Baloucoune, Keith Earls
FULLBACK: Hugo Keenan, Mike Lowry