Uncapped Tadhg Beirne and Ross Byrne named in Ireland squad for Australia series

Ross Byrne
Ross Byrne scored 139 points for Leinster during the 2017-18 season

Uncapped pair Tadhg Beirne and Ross Byrne have been named in a 32-man Ireland squad for the three-Test series against Australia next month.

Beirne, 26, who can play in the back row or second row, becomes eligible for Ireland after agreeing to join Munster from Pro14 finalists Scarlets.

Leinster fly-half Byrne provides cover for Johnny Sexton and Joey Carbery.

The squad announced by coach Joe Schmidt also includes Ulster scrum-half John Cooney, who has won just one cap.

Cooney, who has enjoyed a successful first season with Ulster, came on as a replacement in Ireland's 35-13 win over Japan last summer.

The 28-year-old offers Schmidt a goal-kicking option and can also occupy the number 10 shirt if required.

Conor Murray and Kieran Marmion are the other scrum-halves in the panel.

All of Ireland's frontline players are selected, including Sexton and Rob Kearney, who have not been part of an Ireland summer touring squad since 2014.

Skipper Rory Best is fit to captain the squad after missing Ulster's Pro14 Champions Cup play-off win over the Ospreys with a hamstring injury sustained in training.

The hooker's provincial team-mate Iain Henderson is also included, although he is likely to be an injury doubt for the first Test in Brisbane on 9 June.

Henderson, who has been undergoing rehabilitation in Dublin over the past few weeks, has not played since coming off with a knee injury during a Pro14 game against Munster at the end of April.

Ulster scrum-half John Cooney
John Cooney was named as Ulster's player of the year for the 2017-18 season

Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki have overcome knee and ankle injuries respectively in time to travel with the squad.

Notable absentees for the trip down under include injured forwards Sean O'Brien, Josh van der Flier and Tommy O'Donnell, plus backs Chris Farrell and Fergus McFadden.

"This has probably been the most difficult selection process for the coaching group to date.," said Schmidt.

"The coaching group are excited by the challenge that this three-Test tour will present and from talking to the players we get a sense that they too are excited about going on Tour and testing themselves against one of the best sides in the world in their own backyard."

Six Nations Grand Slam champions Ireland are aiming to extend a run of 12 consecutive wins as they continue to build towards the World Cup in Japan in September 2019.

Ireland have not won a series in the southern hemisphere since defeating Australia 2-0 in 1979, but came close in South Africa in 2016 when they were edged out 2-1 by the Springboks after winning the first Test.

The teams will meet in Melbourne for the second Test on 16 June, with the final game in Sydney on 23 June.

Ireland squad: Backs: Bundee Aki (Connacht), Ross Byrne (Leinster), Joey Carbery (Leinster), Andrew Conway (Munster), John Cooney (Ulster), Keith Earls (Munster), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), Rob Kearney (Leinster), Jordan Larmour (Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Connacht), Conor Murray (Munster), Garry Ringrose (Leinster), Johnny Sexton (Leinster), Jacob Stockdale (Ulster).

Forwards: Tadhg Beirne (Scarlets, joining Munster), Rory Best (Ulster), Jack Conan (Leinster), Sean Cronin (Leinster), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Rob Herring (Ulster), Dan Leavy (Leinster), Jordi Murphy (Leinster, joining Ulster), Peter O'Mahony (Munster), Andrew Porter (Leinster), Quinn Roux (Connacht) James Ryan (Leinster), John Ryan (Munster), CJ Stander (Munster), Devin Toner (Leinster).

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