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Which uncapped players should Ireland bring to New Zealand?

There were lots of exciting young players discussed on The42 Rugby Weekly Extra podcast today.

Cian Prendergast and Alex Kendellen.
Cian Prendergast and Alex Kendellen.

WITH DATES AND VENUES now confirmed for Ireland’s three-Test series against the All Blacks in New Zealand, the time has come for the squad selection speculation to well and truly kick off.

That’s exactly what Ciarán Kennedy and Murray Kinsella got stuck into on today’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra podcast, which is available to members of The42 every Monday and Wednesday.

Andy Farrell’s squad will face the Kiwis in Auckland, Dunedin, and Wellington on 2, 9 and 16 July, but there are also plans for Ireland to play two midweek games against the Maori All Blacks before the first and third Tests.

Those extra games haven’t been officially announced yet but they mean Farrell will bring a larger squad of around 40 players to New Zealand this summer.

With that in mind, Ciarán and Murray each picked six uncapped Irish players who they would like to see in contention to feature for Ireland this summer.

Check out today’s podcast to hear about all 12 players, but the lads started off by picking out Munster’s Alex Kendellen and Connacht’s Cian Prendergast.

“Alex Kendellen is such an exciting prospect,” said Ciarán of the Munster man.

“The thing that stands out to me is that he’s 21 but he already looks so comfortable in that Munster team. What a leader. He was outstanding for the Ireland U20s last year and he has just taken that next step in his career with such ease.

“He’s obviously far from the finished product but he already looks at home at this level. He makes really big impacts on games.

“I was over in Sandy Park a few weeks ago for the first leg of the Munster v Exeter tie and that was his first start in Europe. He was forced off early with a HIA and even then you’re thinking, ‘This is a real loss’ because he was having an influence and had started so well.

“You’re always wary of talking up young players too much but there’s so much to be excited about in the way he has handled the step up this year. You almost forget he’s still in the Munster academy. He has played 16 games for Munster’s senior team this season and he’s set to move up to his first senior deal next season.

“He’s got a really big couple of years ahead of him and has already moved up the ranks quicker than might have been expected.”

Prendergast, meanwhile, has been in brilliant form for Connacht.

“He has been in with Ireland before and marked out as a future international,” said Murray.

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“I think he has to go on this tour. He has just been so consistently excellent for Connacht and definitely is a player of real influence now. When they have needed decisive moments in games, he has provided them very often.

“His ball-carrying has been excellent, he’s really clever in how he picks his running lines, he can jackal, which we saw last weekend again. He previously played, and probably still could play, in the second row so he’s got a really nice lineout, maul, set-piece skillset as well, which is really beneficial at Test level – you’ve got to have good options all over the place on both sides of the ball.

“His determination and character is something he probably shares with Kendellen. There’s a real steel and self-belief there. He went to Connacht and wasn’t just happy to go into the academy, he was targeting senior starts straight away and got them swiftly.

“There’s loads more potential in him and he’s had time training with Ireland, and he’s already playing at a really high level.”

Elsewhere on today’s podcast, Ciarán and Murray discussed an interesting media briefing with URC CEO Martin Anayi, who touched on possible women’s and U23 versions of the competitions.

The lads also discussed why Munster are the most-watched team in the URC and how the format and timing of the competition may have to change in the near future.

To get access to The42 Rugby Weekly Extra, which also comes out every Monday with Gavan Casey, Bernard Jackman, and Murray Kinsella, and features analyst Eoin Toolan, become a member of The42 at members.the42.ie.

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