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The Three Strangest Omissions From The Ireland Squad To Tour South Africa

The Three Strangest Omissions From The Ireland Squad To Tour South Africa
By PJ Browne
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Next month, while the majority of TVs will be tuned to Euro 2016, Ireland travel to South Africa for a three-match summer tour.

Given that the draw for the World Cup takes place in a year's time and Ireland are currently ranked seven in the world, the games between now and then take on massive importance.

On Wednesday afternoon, Joe Schmidt named his 32-man squad for the tour.

New caps include the South-African born Quinn Roux and the New Zealand-born Sean Reidy.

There are also some questionable omissions from the travelling party.

Tommy O'Donnell

The press release for the 32-man squad also included a list of nine unavailable players. Among them, Josh van der Flier and Sean O'Brien - both contenders for the number seven shirt.

That's what makes Munster openside Tommy O'Donnell not being included particularly strange. O'Donnell is a natural seven. It leaves Schmidt with the options of the uncapped Sean Reidy and Rhys Ruddock for the position.



O'Donnell is due to get married this summer, so there is the chance his nuptials have something to with him not being selected by Joe Schmidt - though that would also make you presume he should have been on the 'players unavailable' list.

Another possibility - one which undoubtedly has conspiracy theorists in Munster going wild - is that O'Donnell does have a history of being dropped by Schmidt. (That is something we have gone into depth on here.)

Stuart McCloskey


The tour of South Africa will be as attritional for the players as it will be for thesauruses while journalists search for synonyms for that adjective.


Joe Schmidt has already predicted that the tour will be 'arduous to say the least'. They're are a physical team - the most physical in International rugby. South Africa won't go around the Irish mountains, they'll through them.

One of the larger Irish backs Schmidt could have had at his disposal - one which he could have used to do some bulldozing of his own - was Stuart McCloskey. The 6' 5", 108kg centre has also been excluded for the 32.

The 23-year-old made his Ireland debut in the Six Nations against England. Though Ireland lost that game, McCloskey (playing inside centre) and Robbie Henshaw (playing outside centre) were named in the Six Nations Team of the Week following the game.


The return of Jared Payne from injury for the encounters with Italy and Scotland meant McCloskey did not even make the 23 for either of those games.

Now, possibly due to him being a little bit lax in defence, he appears to no longer be in Joe Schmidt's good graces.

Ian Madigan

Yes, there's an obvious reason for Ian Madigan not being selected. He's leaving Ireland for the Top 14 this summer.


Schmidt has already said that Madigan playing with Bordeaux decreases his chances of playing for Ireland. Johnny Sexton was a special case in this respect.

Still, during his time in charge of Ireland, Schmidt has shown tremendous faith in 27-year-old. Throughout the Six Nations, it was Madigan who occupied a place on the bench rather than the in-form Paddy Jackson.

Given Johnny Sexton's injury history and how physical these tests are going to be - especially for the out-halves - the Ireland management deciding to take only two tens is a little bit strange.


Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Read: The Entire History Of Tommy O'Donnell Being Dropped By Joe Schmidt

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