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Addison injury a concern as Farrell gets set to name Ireland squad tomorrow

The Ulster fullback limped off as his side lost to Clermont last weekend.

AN INJURY THE weekend before Andy Farrell names his first Ireland squad for the Six Nations is far from ideal, but the unlucky Will Addison was hit by what appeared to be a calf issue in Ulster’s defeat to Clermont on Saturday.

Farrell is due to name an Ireland squad of around 38 players tomorrow and it remains unclear whether Addison’s latest injury will rule him out.

will-addison-goes-off-injured Addison came off injured against Clermont on Saturday. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The 27-year-old has been in excellent form but was forced to limp off after 50 minutes of Ulster’s defeat in France on Saturday and was seen with ice applied to his right calf before later leaving the stadium on crutches.

Addison had been expected to be in competition with Jordan Larmour for Ireland’s number 15 shirt in the Six Nations, while he is also capable of excelling at outside centre and even covers the wings.

Ulster opted against shedding light on the extent or nature of Addison’s injury at their media event in Belfast today, while it also remains unclear how Marty Moore has pulled up after being replaced in the clash with Clermont having seemingly sustained an injury.

“Not sure yet, the boys are just getting going at the start of the week and getting the bodies going,” said Ulster assistant coach Roddy Grant today. “No decisions have been made as yet. We’ll see tomorrow.”

Both Addison and Moore were part of Farrell’s 45-player ‘stocktake’ last month, a 24-hour camp to get players up to speed ahead of the Six Nations, so it’s clear they have been in the new head coach’s thinking.

It could be that Farrell simply cuts around seven players from that 45-man group for his Six Nations squad, although the Ireland boss has remained open to players who weren’t involved last month forcing their way into his plans for the championship.

Given that there were five scrum-halves and four out-halves at the stocktake, it’s obvious that there will be cuts in that area, where it will be fascinating to see how Farrell views the pecking order. 

It will also be intriguing to note which uncapped players are retained by Farrell tomorrow.

andy-farrell-attends-the-game Farrell has been out watching the provinces in recent months. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

There were eight involved in last month’s meet-up: Caelan Doris, Will Connors, Max Deegan, Rónan Kelleher, Caolin Blade, Billy Burns, Tom O’Toole, and Jamison Gibson-Park.

Kelleher is widely expected to be one of Farrell’s three selections at hooker, while Leinster team-mates Caelan Doris and Max Deegan are in line for inclusion among Ireland’s back row options.

Farrell will surely have been tempted to include several fresh faces as Ireland look to move on from last year’s World Cup disappointment, even if many of the senior players from that campaign will understandably remain key figures.

Out-half Johnny Sexton, currently sidelined with a knee injury, is expected to be fit for Ireland’s Six Nations opener against Scotland in Dublin on 1 February and is the favourite to be named the new captain following Rory Best’s retirement.

Of course, 23-year-old second row James Ryan is another candidate for the leadership and, again, Farrell’s decision on the captaincy front will be illuminating.

The most revealing of all will be Farrell’s first starting XV and bench for the Scotland clash, with the new boss set to name his selection for that game on Tuesday 28 January, meaning a shift from the previous status quo of Joe Schmidt naming his teams on Thursdays.

The likes of John Cooney, Jordan Larmour, Kelleher, Doris and Deegan have all been in excellent form for their provinces in recent times and Farrell will surely be tempted to shake things up by including some of those men in his XV.

Tomorrow’s extended Six Nations squad will be the next step towards finalising that first team to face the Scots and it must all be feeling very real for Farrell at this point. 

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Murray Kinsella

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