Young talented wingers, Craig Gilroy and Simon Zebo, may still be considered for the Six Nations championship in spite of being left out of Joe Schmidt’s 34-man Ireland squad ahead of the opening home games against Scotland and Wales.
Both had recently returned from injury and featured in Ireland Wolfhounds 14-8 win over England Saxons at Kingsholm on Saturday evening.
In a game dictated by the weather conditions, it was not a night for wingers.
Lions and Munster wing Zebo has found fitness after a foot injury sustained in October while Ulster’s Gilroy has recovered after suffering a suspected concussion in Ulster’s victory over Montpellier in the Heineken Cup earlier this month.
The duo, along with Tommy Bowe, are likely to come into selection consideration after the first two weeks of competition during the break before the tough trip away to England.
Ulster’s Andrew Trimble did make the reduced panel and given he is coming into the championships on form with his Province, there would be a strong hope he would start or at the very least be on the bench for the opening game against Scotland on Sunday at the Aviva Stadium and get the opportunity for another inclusion against Wales on Saturday, February 8 again in Dublin.
Trimble, who has 50 caps with Ireland, but missed out on Declan Kidney’s last selection for the Six Nations and Schmidt’s November Test series, has impressed for his Province particularly in the Heienken Cup - he is now Ulster’s most capped player in Europe.
The wing options Trimble comes up against are Dave Kearney, Fergus McFadden and Luke Fitgerald, with the latter pair being the more serious competition.
Meanwhile, Iain Henderson and Dan Tuohy’s performances for the Wolfhounds saw both included in yesterday’s squad.
Henderson, who has just returned from injury, impressed in the loose and was a candidate for man of the match - which went to Isaac Boss, who is not in the squad for the first two games.
In all Ulster have eight players named. Rory Best is certain to start at hooker against the Scots having fully recovered from a fractured arm nine weeks ago.
The British Lion played in both Heineken Cup pool five games against Montpellier and Leicester Tigers.
Chris Henry has also impressed for his Province and should expect a call to the matchday squad at least this weekend along with Luke Marshall.
Paddy Jackson and Darren Cave are included, although Jackson could miss out if Schmidt opts for utility back Ian Madigan when he starts Jonathan Sexton.
Uncapped forwards Robin Copeland, Jordi Murphy and Martin Moore - who all featured for the Wolfhounds - are in the squad.
Schmidt, who is going into his first Six Nations championship as Ireland coach, said that, although nervous, he was looking forward to the weekend.
“There is a degree of anticipation and expectation which we have to try and meet.”
Forwards: Rory Best (Ulster), Robin Copeland (Cardiff Blues), Sean Cronin (Leinster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Chris Henry (Ulster), Mike McCarthy (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Martin Moore (Leinster), Jordi Murphy (Leinster), Paul O’Connell (Munster), Tommy O’Donnell (Munster), Peter O’Mahony (Munster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Rhys Ruddock (Leinster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster).
Backs: Darren Cave (Ulster), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster), Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Paddy Jackson (Ulster), Felix Jones (Munster), Rob Keaney (Leinster), David Kearney (Leinster), Ian Madigan (Leinster), Luke Marshall (Ulster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster), Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro 92), Andrew Trimble (Ulster).