The senior Ireland national coaching team will be taking charge of that Wolfhounds side which will play the England Saxons in the Galway Sportsground on Friday, January 25th.
It was also announced that Munster Assistant Coach Anthony Foley and Leinster Rugby's Greg Feek will be part of that coaching team for the Wolfhounds game and will continue to work with the Ireland squad throughout the RBS 6 Nations Championship.
The move to involve the senior coaches with the Wolfhounds team is designed to aid preparations for Ireland's opening game against Wales in Cardiff by giving the Ireland coaching staff the opportunity to work with the players and also give those same players a chance to impress the coaches.
The squad will see several further additions to it, primarily in the backrow, following this weekend's round of European games. Both squads will train together in the Ireland training base in Carton House, with a Wolfhounds squad selected later next week. After the Wolfhounds game, a shortened training squad will be selected for the Wales game.
In addition to the squad being announced, it was also confirmed that Jamie Heaslip would continue in the captaincy for the RBS 6 Nations Championship after leading the side during the Guinness Series in November.
Ireland Coach Declan Kidney said, "Our priority is the Wales game, but there is an opportunity in the Wolfhounds match for some of the players as we head into the Six Nations. While the majority of our focus is on the preparations for the Wales game, the coaching staff felt it made sense to have time with the wider group of players and also to have two fully fit teams on the field ready to train after what is usually an attritional end to the group stages in Europe.
There are quite a few players who have been out injured and could be lacking game time, so this will be the ideal chance for them and the newer members in the squad to challenge for places in the senior team. After the Wolfhounds game we will able to name a smaller squad which will train together and prepare for the Wales game."
Commenting on the captaincy, Kidney said "Jamie had done a really good job for the squad and management during November and I felt that now was the correct time to do this. Brian has had very little rugby in the last number of months and I think he deserves the space and time to concentrate on getting himself back playing fully fit. We need Brian the player just as much as we need Brian the captain and typical of the man and the selfless way he has contributed to Irish Rugby and the Ireland team, he has said that the captain and the team would have his full support."
Brian O'Driscoll said, "The captaincy has been a big part of my career and life over the last number of years, and while I was naturally very disappointed not to be leading the team in the Six nations, when I talked it through with Declan I accepted the reasons behind the decision. I've always known that the Rugby World Cup in 2015 was most likely a bridge too far for me, so at some point a player, who will most likely be there for the tournament, needs to build that captaincy experience. Jamie will do a fantastic job and along with the other senior players in the leadership group, I will be giving him all of the support that he needs."
Jamie Heaslip said, "I was incredibly honoured when Declan asked me back in November to lead the team in Brian's absence.
To lead your country is the ultimate in any sport. To get the opportunity again, considering what an inspirational leader Brian is and the other players who could have been chosen to captain the team, is even more humbling. I know Brian as a teammate and as a friend and I will be relying on his and the other players support as we head into the Championship.
Ireland Training Squad(39):
Ireland Squad (club/province/international caps):
Michael Bent (Unattached/Leinster/2)
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster/62)
Isaac Boss (Terenure College/Leinster/15)
Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster/3)
Tom Court (Malone/Ulster/29)
Sean Cronin (St. Mary's College/Leinster/23)
Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster/71)
Keith Earls (Thomond/Munster/34)
Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster/23)
Declan Fitzpatrick (Dungannon /Ulster/2)
Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster/1)
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster/35)
Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster/52) Captain
Iain Henderson (Queens University/Ulster/2)
Chris Henry (Malone/Ulster/4)
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Connacht)*
Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster)*
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster/41)
David Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster/2)
Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster)*
Paul Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster/)*
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster/14)
Mike McCarthy (Buccaneers/Connacht/6)
Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster/16)
Dave McSharry (Galwegians/Connacht/)*
Sean O'Brien (Clontarf/Leinster/22)
Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster/91)
Brian O'Driscoll (UCD/Leinster/120)
Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster/126)
Peter O'Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster/9)
Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster/47)
Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster/24)
Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster/23)
Jonathan Sexton (St.Mary's College/Leinster/34)
Lewis Stevenson (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster/)*
Richardt Strauss (Old Wesley/Leinster/2)
Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster/3)
Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster/49)
Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster/3)
N.B. *denotes uncapped player
Not available due to injury:
Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster/51)
Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster/35)
Luke Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster)
John Muldoon (Galwegians/Connacht/3)
Paul O'Connell (Young Munster/Munster/85)
Dan Tuohy (Ballymena/Ulster/5)
For further information contact:
Karl Richardson, Communications and Media Manager
Phone: +353 (0)866477874