IRELAND DELAYED THE naming of their 30-man training squad following the tragic death of Nevin Spence last Saturday.
However, the official announcement should filter through at some stage this morning and will no doubt spark debate about who should be in and who is taking a training bib from a promising Young Turk.
Declan Kidney and his coaching staff will welcome the chosen ones to Carton House on Sunday afternoon and they will be briefed on the goals for the coming international season while hollers and howls, inspired by events at Croke Park, will emanate from the residents’ bar.
Prominent Irish players such as Tommy Bowe and Paul O’Connell have yet to feature for their provinces this season but their names will be included on the IRFU list.
Leinster hooker Richardt Strauss is a few, short weeks away from being Irish-qualified, although his name should not yet feature.
Nonetheless, Carton House moles will be on the look-out for the battle-hardened features of the 26-year-old from South Africa.
TheScore.ie will ruminate on the claims of seven players that will be hoping to spend their Sunday 26 kilometres away from the Gaelic goings-on at Jones’ Road.
Donnacha Ryan emerged from a distinctly average Six Nations and the three Test tour to New Zealand with a lot of credit. The Munster man proved what many people had been saying for some time – that he was ready to take the reins from Donncha O’Callaghan in the second row.
He is just back in the Pro12 mix with Leinster and another huge year at the provincial and international coal-face beckons for Cian Healy.
The prop went through brothers, and Crusaders, Owen and Ben Franks in the Second Test in Christchurch.
Entirely comfortable in the rarefied air of top-class rugby, the 24-year-old just needs to add his Leinster try-scoring touch to the Irish cause.
On past performances
His dalliance as an inside centre wearing Number 13 failed at Eden Park and there were handling errors in the 60-0 blow-out at Waikato Stadium but Brian O’Driscoll delivered in a big way in the Second Test.
It is entirely pointless in predicting swan-songs for the Leinster man – as it is with Manchester United’s Paul Scholes – but the 33-year-old will be front and centre at Carton House and Irish supporters should enjoy it while it lasts.
Witness his line-break try against Benetton Treviso last week as proof of this.
From March 2011 to June 2012, Andrew Trimble appeared 17 times for Ireland. The spate of caps, most of them from the start, saw the Ulster man grow from a squad player to someone Kidney and Les Kiss could plan their backline strategy around. However, he offered little as others excelled in Christchurch and was swatted aside amidst the carnage in Hamilton a week later. He has only appeared twice for Ulster this season but looked susceptible in defence against Munster.
Fergus McFadden will be hoping that two under-par outings in New Zealand do not see him shelved at international level in November and beyond. He endured a torrid time against Julian Savea and his exceptionable place-kicking skills have not been tapped into by Kidney. He would relish a chance at inside centre but would be fortunate to get it.
He was a game performer this summer and is highly regarded by his Ulster teammates but Dan Tuohy did not appear to answer to the medium term ‘Who?’ to replace Paul O’Connell.
Darren Cave should have been given an opportunity on the tour but it does not bode well for him that Paddy Wallace was called up from his summer holidays when Gordon D’Arcy returned home after the Second Test.
Kidney was hugely heartened by the performance of the Ulster-Leinster core in the 22-19 loss to the All Blacks at the AMI Stadium.
The inclusions of Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson, Devin Toner and Eoin Malley, for example, would show further signs of that but young Munster stars such as James Coughlan and Niall Ronan must not be far away.