Ian Keatley’s selection as replacement to Paddy Jackson for tomorrow’s RBS Six Nations Championship opener against Scotland supports their policy of favouring home-based players for Test selection.
Munster’s Keatley was selected on the bench ahead of Bordeaux’s Ian Madigan, in spite of the ex-Leinster player being included in the initial 40-man panel.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt said: “We are incredibly keen to support the provinces,” said Schmidt.
“If we demonstrate that we are happy to pick players from outside of Ireland, then potentially one of the big draw cards for keeping them here will be lifted, and players will be more likely to go overseas.
“I’ve had some good conversations with Ian (Madigan) lately. It’s not like he’s disappeared and he’s off the radar; we know we can whistle him in.
“This time last year nobody was talking about Joey Carbery. Unfortunately he’s picked up an injury but at the same time he launched himself into the limelight where I very much doubt that would have happened had Ian Madigan actually been there.
“So I think there’s flip-sides either way, and it’s not an ideal situation not to have every Irish-qualified player on the island and immediately available.
“The ones who are overseas are available, but it’s a fluctuating availability, and that’s a little bit frustrating in the preparation.”
IRELAND (v Scotland) : Kearney (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), G Ringrose, R Henshaw (both Leinster), S Zebo (Munster), P Jackson (Ulster), C Murray (Munster), J McGrath (Leinster), R Best (Ulster, capt), T Furlong, D Toner (both Leinster), I Henderson (Ulster), CJ Stander (Munster), S O’Brien, J Heaslip (both Leinster).
Replacements: N Scannell (Munster), C Healy (Leinster), J Ryan (Munster), U Dillane (Connacht), J Van der Flier (Leinster), K Marmion (Connacht), I Keatley (Munster), T Bowe (Ulster).