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The autumn five: Here are the new faces in Joe Schmidt's Ireland squad

Schmidt wasn’t afraid to reward form ahead of the November tests.

Will Payne be used at 13 or 15 by Joe Schmidt?
Will Payne be used at 13 or 15 by Joe Schmidt?
Image: Presseye/Andrew Fosker/INPHO

ISN’T IT REFRESHING to see a coach reward a bit of form in an international squad? Joe Schmidt named a 37-man panel for the November internationals against South Africa, Georgia and Australia and besides rewarding the recent good play of Ian Keatley at the expense of Paddy Jackson, the New Zealander brought five uncapped players in also.

Here is a rundown of who these new boys are and what they’ve done this season to warrant their inclusion.

Jared Payne

From early on in his Ulster career, Irish fans were counting down the days until Payne became eligible for the national team and that day has finally arrived. He can play at 15 or 13 but many think his best position is at fullback. However, he played at outside centre while Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss was interim Director of Rugby at Ulster, so that is a clue as to where Schmidt sees him this year.

Problem is, his performances in the centre have been decidedly underwhelming this season, whereas his counter-attacking performances from 15 have been very strong. His move their last weekend helped spark the Ulster fightback against Leicester.

payne

However, he did show good defensive instincts in the 13 role so he does have something to offer as Brian O’Driscoll’s replacement.

payne2

Darragh Leader

Connacht’s bright start to the season was rewarded with two new caps, with Leader the new face in the back division. The Galway native has been a very dynamic presence at fullback for the westerners this season, especially in the early rounds against Edinburgh and Leinster.

Leader is benefiting from some injuries in the back three and he will be competing with Munster’s Felix Jones to get the nod at 15 for the Georgia game.

Dominic Ryan

Dominic Ryan started against Munster at the Aviva in Joe Schmidt’s first season in charge of Leinster but a combination of injuries and competition has restricted his playing time until this season. The injuries to Sean O’Brien and Jordi Murphy has freed up some room for Ryan and he has taken his chance well.

Simon Zebo is tackled by Dominic Ryan Ryan's physicality has been one of the few bright spots for Leinster this season. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

His tackling and ball carrying have been a feature of Leinster’s forward play this season and it was never more obvious than against Wasps’ big bruising back row with Ashley Johnson and Nathan Hughes.

Ryan’s strong try-scoring outing at the RDS on Sunday evening could have been what sealed his place in Joe Schmidt’s squad.

Dave Foley

Foley was good last season starting 16 games for Munster across the Pro12 and the Heineken Cup, but he has really come into his own this year and his partnership with Paul O’Connell has blossomed into one to rival the great POC/DOC collaboration.

And given how thoroughly Foley outplayed Devin Toner and Mike McCarthy when Leinster met Munster at the Aviva at the start of the month, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him partner O’Connell against Victor Matfield and Eben Etzebeth on 8 November. Regardless, he should certainly be targeting a place in the 22.

Nathan White

Nathan White Nathan White is having a bit of a renaissance in Galway. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

White wasn’t exactly adored during his time in Leinster but the tighthead prop’s persistence has been rewarded with a place in Schmidt’s squad. White has formed a formidable front row in Connacht along with fellow prop Denis Buckley and hooker Dave Heffernan and in truth, Buckley could have made the extended squad too. The Connacht scrum has been one of their strongest areas this year and White has been integral to that.

White has taken the place of Rodney Ah You in the Connacht side this season, so if Schmidt was going to include Ah You, he almost had to include White.

Schmidt squad hit by injuries in all the wrong places for Reid, Hanrahan and Jackson

Five uncapped players in Ireland squad for autumn tests but no Paddy Jackson

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