Flanker O’Donoghue added to Irish squad

Jack O'Donoghue

Jack O’Donoghue’s inclusion will boost coach Joe Schmidt’s back-row options

Ireland have added uncapped Munster flanker Jack O’Donoghue to their squad for the final two Six Nations matches against Italy and Scotland in Dublin.

The 22-year-old will boost head coach Joe Schmidt’s back-row options, with Sean O’Brien sidelined for the rest of the tournament with hamstring trouble.

Ireland, champions for the past two years, are still seeking their first victory in this year’s competition.

Schmidt’s side face Italy on Saturday and host Scotland a week later.

O’Donoghue adds depth to Ireland’s loose forward stocks, with Jordi Murphy and Tommy O’Donnell also in the 35-man training squad.

CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Jamie Heaslip and Rhys Ruddock were the four back-row forwards selected for the match squad in Ireland’s 21-10 defeat to England at Twickenham on 27 February.

That quartet will feature strongly across Ireland’s final two fixtures, with Schmidt’s men targeting two wins from their final two games following a draw with Wales and then losses to France and England.

Despite the pressing need for victories, boss Schmidt may yet decide to mix up selection with one eye on long-term development, hence O’Donoghue’s addition to the squad.

Connacht prop Finlay Bealham is the only other uncapped member of Ireland’s squad ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Italians in Dublin.

Ireland: Forwards: Finlay Bealham (Connacht), Rory Best (Ulster), Sean Cronin (Leinster), Ultan Dillane (Connacht), David Foley (Munster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Jordi Murphy (Leinster), Tommy O’Donnell (Munster), Jack O’Donoghue (Munster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Rhys Ruddock (Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), CJ Stander (Munster), Richardt Strauss (Leinster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster), Nathan White (Connacht).

Backs: Keith Earls (Munster), Craig Gilroy (Ulster), Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Paddy Jackson (Ulster), Rob Kearney (Leinster), Ian Madigan (Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Connacht), Luke Marshall (Ulster), Stuart McCloskey (Ulster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster), Jared Payne (Ulster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster), Simon Zebo (Munster).

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