# new faces
Schmidt names Stander, van der Flier, Dillane and McCloskey in Six Nations squad
Rory Best will captain the squad.

JOE SCHMIDT HAS announced his Ireland squad for the two opening rounds of the Six Nations, with hooker Rory Best confirmed as the new captain.

CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Ultan Dillane and Stuart McCloskey are the uncapped players named in Schmidt’s 35-man group.

CJ Stander Ryan Byrne / INPHO CJ Stander is part of Joe Schmidt's squad. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Jamie Heaslip has been confirmed as Schmidt’s new vice-captain, with Ulsterman Best replacing Paul O’Connell as the new leader.

Mike Ross, Cian Healy and Chris Henry are missing from the squad, although all three will potentially return after the opening games against Wales and France. World Cup back row Jordi Murphy misses out.

Ireland’s campaign begins at home against Wales on 7 February.

“As always there were a number of tight decisions, especially with a number of players not being available to play in recent weeks,” said Schmidt.

Stalwarts such as Mike Ross, Cian Healy and Chris Henry are all likely to return to play over the coming weeks and they, along with some of the other players not included will potentially return to the squad post these first two matches.

“There are a few new faces but at the same time we have resisted the temptation to include some of the very promising youngsters, allowing them a bit more time to develop as well as the opportunity of further game time with their provinces.

“With plenty of new personnel involved the RBS 6 Nations is going to be incredibly challenging and the players selected will know they will need to be at their best to be competitive.”

Ireland squad for first two rounds of 2016 Six Nations:

Hookers: Rory Best (captain), Sean Cronin, Richardt Strauss, Rob Herring

Props: Tadhg Furlong, Marty Moore, Nathan White, Jack McGrath, James Cronin

Locks: Devin Toner, Donnacha Ryan, Mike McCarthy, Ultan Dillane

Back rows: Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander

Halfbacks: Conor Murray, Eoin Reddan, Kieran Marmion, Johnny Sexton, Paddy Jackson, Ian Madigan

Centres: Robbie Henshaw, Stuart McCloskey, Luke Marshall, Jared Payne

Back threes: Keith Earls, Dave Kearney, Simon Zebo, Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble, Luke Fitzgerald

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