Simon Zebo left out of Ireland squad for November internationals; Bundee Aki earns first call-up

Simon Zebo has been omitted from the Ireland squad for next month's autumn internationals.

The Munster winger-cum-fullback is to leave the province at the end of the season.

There is a policy not to pick overseas-based players for Ireland, but with Zebo at Munster until May his absence is something of a surprise.

Bundee Aki has been named in an Ireland squad for the first time.

The New Zealand-born Connacht centre qualifies for Ireland under the residency rule.

Joe Schmidt has named the uncapped quartet of Aki, Leinster's Adam Byrne and Munster duo Chris Farrell and Darren Sweetnam for next month's Tests, with fit-again Rory Best retaining the captaincy.

"In what we anticipate will be an incredibly physical Guinness Series plenty will be demanded of the squad," said Ireland boss Schmidt.

"We have retained a core of experienced players but have also included a number of promising players that we hope will acquit themselves well."

Aki's inclusion will help Schmidt cope with the injury absence of star Leinster centre Garry Ringrose, and also aid in the continued absence of Ulster duo Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding due to off-field reasons.

Ulster's Stuart McCloskey and Jacob Stockdale step into the squad to bolster the midfield options as well.

Ireland's autumn campaign begins with the visit of the Sprinboks to the Aviva on November 11.

The week after Fiji roll into Lansdowne, followed by Argentina on November 25.

    IRELAND SQUAD FOR THE AUTUMN INTERNATIONALS

    Forwards: R Best (Ulster, capt), J Conan (Leinster), U Dillane (Connacht), T Furlong, C Healy (both Leinster), I Henderson, R Herring (both Ulster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), D Leavy, J McGrath, S O'Brien (all Leinster), T O'Donnell, P O'Mahony (both Munster), A Porter, R Ruddock, James Ryan (all Leinster), John Ryan, CJ Stander (both Munster), D Toner, J Tracy (both Leinster), K Treadwell (Ulster).

    Backs: B Aki (Connacht), A Byrne, J Carbery (both Leinster), A Conway, K Earls, C Farrell (all Munster), R Henshaw, D Kearney, R Kearney (all Leinster), I Keatley (Munster), K Marmion (Connacht), S McCloskey (Ulster), L McGrath (Leinster), C Murray (Munster), J Sexton (Leinster), J Stockdale (Ulster), D Sweetnam (Munster).

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KEYWORDS: Simon Zebo, rugby

 

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