Six Nations 2017: Uncapped Munster trio named in Ireland squad

Niall Scannell
Niall Scannell will vie with Leinster's James Tracy for the back-up spot to regular number two Rory Best

Uncapped brothers Niall and Rory Scannell, plus Munster team-mate Andrew Conway, have been included in a 40-man Ireland squad for the Six Nations.

Jonathan Sexton has also been named in the group for the opening two fixtures - away games in Scotland on 4 February and Italy a week later.

The fly-half came off with a calf injury during Leinster's Champions Cup draw with Castres on Friday.

Sexton, 31, will have a scan on the problem but is expected to be fit.

Centre Rory Scannell, 23, was called up for Ireland's final autumn international against Australia in November, and was at the Aviva Stadium as the 24th man.

While Garry Ringrose is expected to partner Leinster team-mate Robbie Henshaw in midfield, Scannell's versatility could see him win his first cap before the end of the tournament.

Ireland in the 2017 Six Nations
Saturday, 4 February, 14:25 GMT: Scotland v Ireland
Saturday, 11 February, 14:25 GMT: Italy v Ireland
Saturday, 25 February, 16:50 GMT: Ireland v France
Friday, 10 March, 20:05 GMT: Wales v Ireland
Saturday, 18 March, 17:00 GMT: Ireland v England

His older brother Niall, 24, has made the Munster hooker position his own and, with Sean Cronin ruled out with a hamstring injury, he will vie with Leinster's James Tracy for the back-up spot to regular number two Rory Best.

Wing Conway has also been in impressive form for Munster, while Keith Earls has recovered from a couple of recent niggles to take his place in the squad.

Munster flanker Tommy O'Donnell is recalled after missing the summer tour of South Africa because of his wedding, and subsequently being left out of the November autumn internationals.

Leinster back-rower Jack Conan, meanwhile, has been rewarded for his eye-catching performances in recent weeks and could add to the solitary cap he won in 2015.

Despite the province's recent struggles, six Ulster backs are named - Tommy Bowe, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey and Andrew Trimble, along with forwards Rory Best and Iain Henderson.

Head coach Joe Schmidt leaves some high profile names out of the squad, notably Richardt Strauss and Rhys Ruddock, while Connacht's Quinn Roux and Bordeaux's Ian Madigan are also excluded.

Ulster centre Jared Payne and Leinster duo Sean Cronin and Joey Carbery were unavailable because of injury.

Ireland squad

Forwards: Finlay Bealham (Connacht), Rory Best (Ulster), Jack Conan (Connacht), Ultan Dillane (Connacht), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Billy Holland (Munster), Dave Kilcoyne (Munster), Dan Leavy (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Sean O'Brien (Leinster), Tommy O'Donnell (Munster), Peter O'Mahony (Munster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), John Ryan (Munster), Niall Scannell (Munster), CJ Stander (Munster), Devin Toner (Leinster), James Tracy (Leinster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster).

Backs: Tommy Bowe (Ulster), Andrew Conway (Munster), Keith Earls (Munster), Craig Gilroy (Ulster), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), Paddy Jackson (Ulster), Rob Kearney (Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Connacht), Luke Marshall (Ulster), Stuart McCloskey (Ulster), Luke McGrath (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster), Tiernan O'Halloran (Connacht), Garry Ringrose (Leinster), Rory Scannell (Munster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster), Simon Zebo (Munster).

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