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Dublin: 3°C Thursday 26 November 2020

Ulster hopeful good form is reflected in Ireland's Six Nations squad today

The northern province should have a strong contingent in Andy Farrell’s group.

WHILE A RAFT of Ulster call-ups to Ireland’s Six Nations squad might make life trickier for Dan McFarland and his coaching staff in the coming months, their hope is that the province’s fine form is reflected when Andy Farrell names his extended group for the championship today.

Farrell is set to name a squad of around 38 players late this afternoon, with many Ulster men having pushed into strong contention with their excellent performances for the northern province.

irelands-john-cooney Cooney is in superb form for Ulster. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Scrum-half John Cooney is many supporters’ favourite to start at scrum-half for Ireland in the Six Nations, while his halfback partner, Billy Burns, has been excellent so far this season.

Cooney and Burns were part of Farrell’s 45-player Ireland camp last month, where they were joined by provincial team-mates Jacob Stockdale, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, Stuart McCloskey, Marty Moore, Tom O’Toole, and Will Addison.

Addison and Moore both came off injured in Ulster’s defeat to Clermont last weekend, with the province opting against providing an update on their fitness at yesterday’s media event in Belfast.

But the chances of a healthy level of Ulster involvement under Farrell in the wider Six Nations look strong.

Joe Schmidt included three Ulster players in his initial World Cup squad last year in Henderson, Stockdale, and the now-retired Rory Best, although hooker Herring and back row Jordi Murphy were called out to Japan as injury replacements.

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Murphy was absent from last month’s Ireland meet-up, with Farrell instead including uncapped Leinster back rows Caelan Doris, Max Deegan, and Will Connors.

rob-herring-celebrates-after-the-game Rob Herring is expected to be one of the three Ireland hookers. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

There have been many suggestions that Ulster’s positive season so far has been aided by not having too many players away for the World Cup period or rested for two consecutive weekends recently due to the IRFU’s player management protocols. 

While a raft of call-ups for the Six Nations could dent Ulster’s cohesion in the coming months, the province’s coaching staff are hoping that Farrell’s squad includes as many of their players as possible.

“I hope so and it will reward the guys for all the hard work here at the club,” said Ulster forwards coach Roddy Grant.

“You’re delighted if people are going towards their goals in life as a coach I’d hope to get the guys as good as they can be and get the best out of people and if they’re doing that and get the rewards of a national call-up then happy days.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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