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No room for Simon Zebo a questionable decision by the Irish selectors

WE have no inside information regarding the selection and procedures of Irish rugby selections, but there is a strong possibility that Simon Zebo was not waiting until this afternoon to know his fate. The decision of Joe Schmidt and his fellow selectors not to include the Corkman in a preliminary squad of 38 defies logic. The Munster utility back has been playing superbly all season, scoring a well-taken try against Castres and some spectacular breaks last Saturday against Racing 92. He is a player that any coach would want on their starting side and he is the one player who is capable of lighting up a game on the world stage.
Modern rugby needs entertainers. People who pay the admission fees (50,000 so far for the game v South African in the Aviva Stadium) respond to flair and Zebo is the Prince of the Unexpected. One reverse pass last Saturday in Thomond Park was audacious from the Munster player. Had it come off it would have been one of the great tries of the Champions Cup, the pass to Keith Earls missing the target by a fraction.
Limerick clubs have got a decent representation with Dave Kilcoyne and Tommy O’Donnell of UL Bohemian, Ian Keatley, Keith Earls and Chris Farrell of Young Munster, Conor Murray and Andrew Conway of Garryowen and CJ Stander of Shannon all included. Other Munster players in the squad are Peter O’Mahony, John Ryan and Darren Sweetnam.
Ireland coaching group has named a 38 player squad for the 2017 Guinness Series which sees Ireland take on South Africa, Fiji and Argentina in the Aviva Stadium in November.
The South Africa fixture on Saturday, 11th November is a sell-out but there are limited tickets available for Fiji (45,000+ sold) and Argentina (50,000+ sold).
Ireland face the Springboks for the first time since the 2016 Summer Tour where Ireland recorded a first ever victory on South African soil at Newlands but ultimately lost the series decider. Earlier this month the Boks came within a point of beating the All Blacks in their final game of this year’s Rugby Championship having twice drawn with Australia and recorded victories home and away against the Pumas.
The Bok squad will be led by the 63 time capped lock Eben Etzebeth with their full European tour travelling party set to be named after the Currie Cup final.
Fiji come to Ireland as the reigning Pacific Nations Cup champions and have secured qualification for Rugby World Cup 2019 by virtue of being the top team in the region over the course of the past two seasons.
There are a number of familiar names within their squad such as Newcastle Falcons’ Vereniki Goneva, Racing 92’s Leone Nakarawa and Toulon’s Josua Tuisova while Montpellier’s Nemani Nadolo could also feature for the Flying Fijians.
The final game of the Guinness Series sees Ireland square off against Argentina. The two sides have not met since the RWC quarter-final in Cardiff in October 2015. The Pumas have recently added Mario Ledesma to their backroom team. The hooker who was capped 84 times for his country joins from the Wallabies backroom team and played under Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt at Clermont Auvergne.
Ireland Head Coach, Joe Schmidt, commented, “In what we anticipate will be an incredibly physical Guinness Series plenty will be demanded of the squad. We have retained a core of experienced players but have also included a number of promising players that we hope will acquit themselves well.”
2017 Guinness Series Squad
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) c 104 caps
Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 4 caps
Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht) 10 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 16 caps
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 70 caps
Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 32 caps
Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 1 cap
Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 20 caps
Dan Leavy (UCD/Leinster) 4 caps
Jack McGrath (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 41 caps
Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster) 49 caps
Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster) 12 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 40 caps
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 2 caps
Rhys Ruddock (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 16 caps
James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 2 caps
John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 9 caps
CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 15 caps
Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 50 caps
James Tracy (UCD/Leinster) 4 caps
Kieran Treadwell (Ballymena/Ulster) 2 caps
BACKS (17)
Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) uncapped
Adam Byrne (UCD/Leinster) uncapped
Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Leinster) 4 caps
Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 3 caps
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 62 caps
Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) uncapped
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 29 caps
Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster) 16 caps
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 76 caps
Ian Keatley (Young Munster/Munster) 5 caps
Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht) 16 caps
Stuart McCloskey (Bangor/UIster) 1 cap
Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 4 caps
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 57 caps
Johnny Sexton (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 66 caps
Jacob Stockdale (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) 2 caps
Darren Sweetnam (Cork Constitution/Munster) uncapped
2017 Guinness Series Fixtures
IRELAND v South Africa
Saturday 11th November, KO 17.30
Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Saturday 18th November, KO 17.30
Aviva Stadium, Dublin
IRELAND v Argentina
Saturday 25th November, KO 17.30
Aviva Stadium, Dublin

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