Joe Schmidt admits cutting his Ireland squad down to just 31 men was an extremely difficult call after unveiling the squad heading to Japan for the Rugby World Cup.
Schmidt and his coaching staff have made a number of big decisions in both the forwards and the backs.
The stand-out call is the one to include newly-capped second row Jean Kleyn instead of Devin Toner, a three-times Guinness Six Nations winner under Schmidt.
In the back row Rhys Ruddock has got the nod ahead of Jordi Murphy while Rory Best will captain the side from hooker with Niall Scannell and Sean Cronin also named at No.2.
In the back line Chris Farrell beats out Will Addison as the fourth centre while Luke McGrath is the only back-up scrum-half to Conor Murray.
Joey Carbery and Keith Earls are both named despite their ongoing injury concerns while Jack Carty is the third fly-half, picked ahead of Ross Byrne.
In all, Schmidt has opted for a 17-14 forwards to backs split for their pool campaign against Scotland, hosts Japan, Russia and Samoa.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) September 2, 2019
The head coach, who will depart the role at the end of this World Cup, said: “It was a difficult thing right from the start to have the 45 that we had. We went down to 40 players and to go from 40 down to 31 was really difficult.
“But we had a process whereby we looked back through every training, looked through the games.
“There were some guys who obviously had more experience and probably had more credit in the bank and were more established and there were other guys who were trying to force their way into group and trying to get a balance of current form versus previous performance, it’s always a very very difficult conundrum to try to solve.
“It was one of those typical selection meetings where maybe 20-25 of the players are listed straight away and it’s those ones where you’re are trying to get balance where it’s very difficult to choose between two players and two players offer slightly different things and you’re trying then to narrow down and trying to get the best balance across the squad of the entire 31 because that’s part of what you need to do because you’ve got to make sure you have cover that’s immediate even though you can replace players there is obviously a big time delay in that.”
Ireland – Rugby World Cup Squad 2019
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 119 caps CAPTAIN
Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster) 8 caps
Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 15 caps
Sean Cronin (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 69 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 35 caps
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 90 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 30 caps
Iain Henderson (Queens University/Ulster) 47 caps
Jean Kleyn (Munster) 2 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 59 caps
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps
Rhys Ruddock (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 22 caps
James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 18 caps
John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 20 caps
Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 16 caps
CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 32 caps
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 18 caps
Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 19 caps
Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 19 caps
Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 6 caps
Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 15 caps
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 77 caps
Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) 5 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 37 caps
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 91 caps
Jordan Larmour (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 15 caps
Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 13 caps
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 73 caps
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 23 caps
Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 83 caps
Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 20 caps