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Ulster duo back in green, Madigan at 10 and more Ireland XV talking points

There are two uncapped Leinster men starting against Robbie Deans’ side.

JOE SCHMIDT THIS afternoon named a strong looking Ireland XV to face the Barbarians in a non-capped match at Thomond Park tomorrow evening [KO 19.45].

You can check out the team in full here.

Uncapped O’Shea and Furlong

After an injury-interrupted season in which he only made his first appearance for Leinster on the last day of their Guinness Pro12 campaign, Clontarf man Collie O’Shea finds himself set to wear Ireland’s 13 shirt.

Colm O'Shea O'Shea at Ireland's captain's run this afternoon. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

It won’t mean a first cap, of course, but it certainly bodes well for the 24-year-old in terms of future possibilities in that regard. He has been excellent for his club in the Ulster Bank League over recent seasons and has always looked promising for Leinster too.

Furlong, meanwhile, is the only other uncapped player in the Ireland XV for tomorrow, but is similarly rated as a future international. His strong scrummaging and ability around the pitch even saw him push Mike Ross out of the Leinster matchday squad at one stage this season.

The Wexford tighthead has the mobility and set-piece nous to be a superb front row for some time to come, meaning tomorrow is likely to only be the beginning of the road for him.

Madigan in front of Jackson

Ian Madigan gets the nod in the 10 shirt from head coach Joe Schmidt for this fixture, despite the hugely impressive form of Paddy Jackson with Ulster. The most likely reason is that Schmidt feels Madigan needs the minutes in the 10 shirt.

Michael Bent, Tadhg Furlong, Richardt Strauss and Dave Kearney The Ireland XV warm up at Thomond Park. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Jackson has featured at out-half extensively since returning from the elbow injury sustained against Toulon in January, while Madigan has played far more rugby at inside centre.

Schmidt is a longstanding fan of Madigan’s ability, having backed him repeatedly in the past. For the Leinster man, it’s an excellent opportunity to underline his World Cup credentials.

Chris Henry’s back

What a comeback it’s been for Chris Henry. Having undergone heart surgery back in November, the genuine fear was that the openside flanker might not play rugby professionally again at all.

Chris Henry Henry will be back in green. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

He’s worked diligently and determinedly to rebuild his fitness and form ever since, gradually rediscovering his ability to be an utter nuisance around the breakdown. The sight of him smashing Glasgow ball carriers last weekend would have been welcomed by Schmidt.

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Henry was a key part of the 2014 Six Nations success under Schmidt when Sean O’Brien was out injured, and Schmidt knows his true value. Tomorrow marks the latest step towards a full recovery for the World Cup.

In from the cold

We have to delve back to 2014 for Luke Marshall’s last involvement with Ireland too, his coming on the tour to Argentina. A head injury on that trip was untimely.

Marshall has suffered his fair share of those issues in the last number of seasons, along with several other injury problems, and it’s meant that a career that looked destined for the peak of the game has been greatly slowed.

Luke Marshall Schmidt has started Marshall in green before. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

An impressive start for Ireland in the 2013 Six Nations against Scotland had suggested Marshall could eventually succeed Gordon D’Arcy as the long-term option in that position, but it hasn’t proved to be the case.

There is little doubt that Marshall has a rounded skill-set, particularly given his background at out-half, but now he needs to prove he can show it on a consistent basis. Opportunity knocks.

Talent in reserve

Though Schmidt is sure to explain that Stuart McCloskey, Noel Reid, Jack Conan and Rhys Ruddock have been left out on account of their involvement with Emerging Ireland this summer, there are two young talents to get excited about on the Ireland XV bench.

Cian Kelleher Kelleher is highly talented. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Cian Kelleher’s swift and sudden rise continues with inclusion in this matchday squad, having recently won his first Leinster capped and been named Ulster Bank League Rising Star for 2014/15.

The former Ireland U20 international possesses thrilling attacking skills, much like scrum-half Luke McGrath. The Leinster halfback is also involved tomorrow, and is another man Schmidt is known to rate as an exceptional prospect.

Ireland fans will be eager to see both in action at Thomond Park.

Here’s Joe Schmidt’s Ireland team to face the Barbarians tomorrow

The Barbarians have drafted in a Leinster legend to face Ireland

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Murray Kinsella

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