The names of Josh van der Flier, Ultan Dillane and Garry Ringrose will surprise no one as players Joe Schmidt has been keeping an eye on. The forward pair of van der Flier and Dillane have been included in the 35-man Ireland squad for the opening two games of the Six Nations against Wales and France.
Ringrose's exclusion disappointed many, including Brian O'Driscoll, though Joe Schmidt explained that he felt the 21-year-old's progress would be better aided by getting game time in the Pro12 rather than being in camp with Ireland.
Speaking to Newstalk, Schmidt also named Munster's Jack O'Donoghue as one of the young players who has impressed him so far this season.
For us, we have to have an eye for the future and we are certainly watching a couple of young players, a couple that I probably name publicly.
There's a young man, Jack O'Donoghue, who's playing in Munster, who's really acquitted himself well first season in the top level and he's showing fantastic resilience as well. Garry Ringrose at Leinster has acquitted himself really well, so of course we're keeping an eye on those guys. I've chatted to both of them. Josh van der Flier, who's come in from Leinster, another young guy who wouldn't have been seen on the international scene. There's those sort of guys and Ultan Dillane, who's another guy who's an exciting prospect for us. Those guys, we're building them for the future.
Quoted by the Irish Independent, Schmidt further expanded regarding O'Donoghue.
Jack O'Donoghue has done a great job this year. He's probably been moved around because Tommy (O'Donnell) got injured.
Jack's mostly played at the back of the scrum and he's been playing on the openside of the scrum and it's a different challenge for him, but he's been so robust and resilient. He's a player we've earmarked for a while.
Leinster prop Peter Dooley, who impressed when a youthful Leinster side beat Bath at the RDS earlier this month, also received a mention from the Ireland head coach.
I watched those U-20s play against New Zealand in that 3rd-4th place play-off and Peter Dooley is another guy who really, really impressed us, so those guys are starting to work their way through the system.
Picture credit: Sportsfile