Four uncapped players could feature in Ireland's World Cup training squad
Even with an extended squad being announced, there will be at least a dozen players feeling unfortunate to be missing out.
Three of the four Irish provinces are done for the season but, this week, are tapering off their training and doing 'beach weights' before being set free for six weeks.
Leinster are involved in the Guinness PRO14 final against Glasgow, this Saturday, but will break up once they toast another season where they competed for the club game's top prizes.
When the dust settles, Joe Schmidt's extended training squad for the World Cup will be announced. This will follow similar announcements from the likes of Scotland, France and Wales, and it gives the country's top professionals an idea of when they will have to return from their holidays, and what awaits them over the summer.
On the latest episode of Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby [from 32:00 below], hosts Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble discussed a few 'bolters' that could make that extended squad.
After Munster and Ulster suffered semi-final exits, in the Guinness PRO14, Murphy and Trimble looked ahead to some of their players featuring in the World Cup warm-ups (August and September). Trimble commented:
"Stuart McCloskey has been brilliant, though, for ages. He hasn't got any more brilliant. That's the thing. And the one area, well back row and centre are two areas, where being brilliant just might not just be enough. Hopefully it is.
"Because he's probably Ulster's most important player, often. He is the guy that gets gainlines. But, yeah, it would be nice to see him get a go. It would be nice to see one of the young wingers get a go. Maybe Mike Lowry."
Wales named a 42-man training squad while the Scots (44) and the French (48) threw a wider net. We expect Schmidt to name a large squad and several more, while left with their provinces, are likely to be called in for sessions over the summer. Options will be kept open.
Were Ireland to go for a more conservative squad selection, this is how we reckon it would go:
42-MAN IRELAND SQUAD
Hookers: Rory Best, Niall Scannell, Rob Herring
Props: Cian Healy, Dave Kilcoyne, Jack McGrath, Tadhg Furlong, Andrew Porter, John Ryan
Locks: James Ryan, Devin Toner, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Beirne, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux
Back rows: Peter O'Mahony, Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander, Jack Conan, Rhys Ruddock, Jack O'Donoghue, Sean O'Brien, Jordi Murphy
Scrum-halves: Conor Murray, Kieran Marmion, Luke McGrath, John Cooney
Out-halves: Johnny Sexton, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Ross Byrne
Midfield: Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Chris Farrell
Back three: Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Keith Earls, Jacob Stockdale, Andrew Conway, Adam Byrne, Will Addison
However, we feel there will be more than 42 names announced next week, and some uncapped players will be in the mix.
Before we list the outside chances, it is worth noting that two players - Jean Kleyn (September) and Jamison Gibson Park (August) - will become Irish qualified before the World Cup commences.
10 possible inclusions (in order of selection chances)
- Caolin Blade* (Connacht scrumhalf)
- Tom Farrell* (Connacht centre)
- Jamison Gibson Park* (Leinster scrumhalf)
- Mike Lowry* (Ulster utility back)
- Stuart McCloskey (Ulster centre)
- Jean Kleyn* (Munster lock)
- James Tracy (Leinster hooker)
- Max Deegan* (Leinster back-row)
* Denotes an uncapped player
Even with those 52 players mentioned above (we suspected the final squad number will be between 46 and 48) there are a number of quality pros, and experienced Test players, missing out.
Foreign-based stars such as Simon Zebo, Donnacha Ryan and Ian Madigan were always unlikely to feature but home-birds such as Sam Arnold, Fergus McFadden, Dave Kearney, Darren Sweetnam, Craig Gilroy, and more, missing out.
WATCH THAT HOUSE OF RUGBY EPISODE HERE: