Kidney names Best and Horan in Ireland squad

IRELAND head coach Declan Kidney has named Rory Best and Marcus Horan in his 44-man squad for the RBS Six Nations.

Ulster hooker Best has not played this season after having surgery on a neck injury last summer, but recently returned to contact training. Munster prop Horan missed the autumn internationals after having a medical procedure for a minor heart ailment.

There are nine uncapped players in the squad with Ulster forwards Dan Tuohy and Declan Fitzpatrick among the new faces.

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Lock forward Tuohy has been in commanding form for the Ravenhill side, particularly impressing in the Heineken Cup wins over Stade Francais and Edinburgh. Fitzpatrick is a more surprising selection given he has only started two games for the province this season.

The other uncapped men are Leinster's Fergus McFadden, Kevin McLaughlin, Devin Toner and John Fogarty, Leicester wing Johne Murphy, Connacht prop Brett Wilkinson and Ulster No 8 Chris Henry. Kidney will select the Ireland A squad to face England Saxons in Bath on 31 January from his 44-man panel, with players being brought in from outside the squad for that fixture. The A side will then face Scotland A at Ravenhill on 5 February.

The head coach admits his selection was made with one eye on developing his squad ahead of the 2011 World Cup.

Kidney said: "We had three main considerations, with the most important being the opening game against Italy, followed by the A games and further down the line with the Rugby World Cup. Building a squad has always been a priority for us and the work done during the first half of the season means there is a little more experience than we had a few months ago.


Forwards: R Best, T Buckley, T Court, S Cronin, L Cullen, S Ferris, D Fitzpatrick, J Flannery, J Fogarty, J Hayes, C Healy, J Heaslip, C Henry, M Horan, S Horgan, S Jennings, K McLaughlin, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, M O'Driscoll, S O'Brien, M Ross, D Ryan, D Toner, D Touhy, D Wallace, B Wilkinson. Backs: I Boss, T Bowe, G D'Arcy, I Dowling, K Earls, Shane Horgan, D Hurley, R Kearney, F McFadden, J Murphy, B O'Driscoll, R O'Gara, T O'Leary, E Reddan, J Sexton, P Stringer, A Trimble, P Wallace.