DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland named eight uncapped players in their squad to face the United States and Japan next month as coach Joe Schmidt handed a number of younger players the chance to impress with 11 regulars touring with the British and Irish Lions.
Schmidt picked four forwards for the first time - Connacht hooker Dave Heffernan, Ulster lock Kieran Treadwell and Leinster pair of Andrew Porter and James Ryan, the highly-rated 20-year-old second row who has yet to play a senior game for the province.
Munster centre Rory Scannell, who was called up to the Irish squad during this season’s Six Nations but did not win a cap, was included alongside three other potential debutant backs - Connacht scrumhalf John Cooney, Leinster centre Rory O‘Loughlin, and Ulster fullback Jacob Stockdale.
Ireland are also missing Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney and Jordi Murphy through injury but can count on the experience of Keith Earls, Cian Healy and Devin Toner for the tour starting in the U.S. on June 10.
Schmidt’s squad travel to Japan for two tests on June 17 and 24, a preview of their 2019 World Cup meeting having been drawn in the same group last week.
There will also be a fresh look to the coaching staff with former internationals Ronan O‘Gara, Girvan Dempsey and Felix Jones, who have all recently moved into coaching, joining the touring party for different parts of the trip.
“There is a real freshness to the group, including the coaching staff, so we’re looking forward to what will be a very challenging summer tour,” Schmidt said in a statement.
Ireland squad: Finlay Bealham, Joey Carbery, Jack Conan, Andrew Conway, John Cooney, Keith Earls, Cian Healy, Dave Heffernan, Paddy Jackson, Dave Kilcoyne, Dan Leavy, Kieran Marmion, Luke Marshall, Luke McGrath, Tommy O‘Donnell, Jack O‘Donoghue, Tiernan O‘Halloran, Rory O‘Loughlin, Andrew Porter, Garry Ringrose, Rhys Ruddock, James Ryan, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, Rory Scannell, Jacob Stockdale, Devin Toner, James Tracy, Kieran Treadwell, Josh van der Flier, Simon Zebo.
Reporting by Padraic Halpin, editing by Ed Osmond