Schmidt picks eight uncapped players for Ireland's USA tour


Joe Schmidt has thrown the gauntlet down to Ireland's youngsters after naming eight uncapped players in his 31-man squad for the tour to the United States.

With 11 Ireland players in the British and Irish Lions selection for the tour to New Zealand, Schmidt has turned to some youthful replacements.

Uncapped forward quartet Dave Heffernan, Andrew Porter, James Ryan and Kieran Treadwell have all been given the nod, joining John Cooney, Rory O'Loughlin, Rory Scannell and Jacob Stockdale, who are the newcomers in the backs department. 

Ireland meet the USA before two Tests against Japan in June.

"With 11 players due to tour with the British and Irish Lions, plus a number of injuries to experienced internationals, the summer tour squad includes plenty of youth," said Schmidt, whose side finished second at the Six Nations after denying England a Grand Slam in the final match.

"There is a real freshness to the group, including the coaching staff, so we're looking forward to what will be a very challenging summer tour.

"We have retained a sprinkling of experienced players, some of whom may yet be called up to the Lions, but the focus is really on challenging the younger players to cope with the heat and foreign conditions as well as the speed and physicality of Test rugby."

Ireland learned on Tuesday that they will begin their 2018 Six Nations campaign in France as the fixtures for the next two editions of the tournament were announced.


Ireland squad:

Forwards: Finlay Bealham, Jack Conan, Cian Healy, Dave Heffernan, Dave Kilcoyne, Dan Leavy, Tommy O'Donnell, Jack O'Donoghue, Andrew Porter, Rhys Ruddock, James Ryan, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, Devin Toner, James Tracy, Kieran Treadwell, Josh van der Flier

Backs: Joey Carbery, Andrew Conway, John Cooney, Keith Earls, Paddy Jackson, Kieran Marmion, Luke Marshall, Luke McGrath, Tiernan O'Halloran, Rory O'Loughlin, Garry Ringrose, Rory Scannell, Jacob Stockdale, Simon Zebo