SIX NATIONS RUGBY: Tommy Bowe back in Ireland squad ahead of Championship

Tommy Bowe
Tommy Bowe

Tommy Bowe is one of eight Ulster players included in the Ireland squad ahead of the first two rounds of the 2017 RBS Six Nations Championship.

The British Lions winger has missed out on previous Ireland selections due to injury and there has been some doubt if he would be included in the panel this time around after some off colour performances with Ulster.

Stuart McCloskey and Paddy Jackson

Stuart McCloskey and Paddy Jackson

But the winger has done enough to convince Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt to include him in a 40-man squad.

Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey has also been rewarded for some big performances with his Province and is named in the panel. He will be hoping to gain his second cap during the campaign.

Paddy Jackson, who has been in impressive form at outhalf with Andrew Trimble, Craig Gilroy and Luke Marshall also included.

Rory Best, who will captain the side, is joined by Iain Henderson in the pack.

Rory Best

Rory Best

Schmidt has also included three uncapped players, Niall and Rory Scannell and Andrew Conway, all from Munster in the initial panel.

Ireland and England are the favourites to win the Championship this year with many tipping the game on March 18 in Dublin as a potential Championship decider.

However, Ireland have to overcome a potential banana skin in their opener on February 4 at Murrayfield against Scotland.

They will then go to Italy on February 11, entertain France on February 25 and play Wales on a Friday night game at the Millennium Stadium on March 10.

Ireland 40-man squad for firt two rounds of Six Nations Championship:

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).