Five Connacht Rugby players have been named in the 37-man Ireland training squad for the forthcoming Guinness Series which features Tests against South Africa, Georgia and Australia. The uncapped duo of Darragh Leader and Nathan White join Connacht team mates Robbie Henshaw, Kieran Marmion, and Rodney Ah You in the squad captained by Paul O’Connell.

Galway-born Darragh Leader has been included in the international set up for the first time. The 21-year-old has started all seven games for his home province this season where he has started at full back each time but has also shown his versatility by switching to centre at different times. His goal kicking abilities, especially from long-range, have also been capitalised on this season.

The Academy graduate earned his first Connacht cap in October 2012 when he started at fullback against the Ospreys at Liberty Stadium. Having attended St. Joseph’s College, Galway, Leader played all his club rugby with Galwegians RFC and went on to represent Ireland at U19 and U20 level.

Connacht tighthead prop Nathan White is another one of the five uncapped players included in the international squad. The 33-year-old played a season with Leinster Rugby before he moved to Connacht in the summer of 2012 on a three year playing contract. The dynamic front row forward has become a significant leader in the Connacht squad and has captained the side on numerous occasions.

The previously capped trio of Robbie Henshaw, Kieran Marmion and Rodney Ah You will also have a chance to train under Ireland Head Coach Joe Schmidt and push for a place in the November Series.

Ireland take on Heyneke Meyer’s South Africa at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 8th November.  The Springboks ended the All Blacks’ unbeaten run of 22 games with their victory at Ellis Park in the final game of the Rugby Championship in early October.

On Sunday 16th November, Ireland play host to Georgia who have a plethora of players plying their trade at leading French Top 14 clubs.

The final game of the Guinness Series will take place on Saturday 22nd November with the return of the Wallabies who recorded a victory in Dublin last November.  The games against South Africa and Australia are sell-outs while there remain opportunities to secure tickets for the game against Georgia.

Players unavailable for selection due to injury include Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald (returning from long term injury), Cian Healy, Iain Henderson, Dave Kearney, Luke Marshall, Fergus McFadden, Martin Moore, Jordi Murphy, Sean O’Brien, Donnacha Ryan, Mike Sherry, Dan Touhy, Andrew Trimble and Damien Varley.

IRELAND 2014 Guinness Series Squad:

Forwards (21)

Stephen Archer (Cork Constitution/Munster) 2

Rodney Ah You (Corinthians/Connacht) 1

Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 77

James Cronin (Dolphin/Munster) 1

Sean Cronin (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 35

Robbie Diack (Malone/Ulster) 1

Dave Foley (UL Bohemians/Munster) *

Chris Henry (Malone/Ulster) 16

Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster) 67

Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 10

Mike McCarthy (Lansdowne/Leinster) 15

Jack McGrath (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 10

Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster) 94 CAPTAIN

Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster) 4

Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 23

Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster) 41

Rhys Ruddock (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 3

Dominic Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster) *

Richardt Strauss (Old Wesley/Leinster) 4

Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 17

Nathan White (Galwegians/Connacht)*


Backs (16)

Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) 54

Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster) 79

Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster) 5

Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Connacht) 3

Felix Jones (Shannon/Munster) 6

Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 55

Ian Keatley (Young Munster/Munster) 2

Darragh Leader (Galwegians/Connacht) *

Ian Madigan (Blackrock/Leinster) 10

Kieran Marmion (Galwegians/Connacht) 2

Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 28

Stuart Olding (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) 1

Jared Payne (Ulster) *

Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster) 55

Johnny Sexton (Racing Metro) 45

Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster) 8

*Denotes uncapped player


2014 Guinness Series Fixtures

IRELAND v South Africa

Saturday 8th November, 2014

Aviva Stadium, K.O. 17:30


IRELAND v Georgia

Sunday 16th November, 2014

Aviva Stadium, K.O. 14:30


IRELAND v Australia

Saturday 22nd November, 2014

Aviva Stadium, K.O. 16:30



Eoin De Buitléar signs first Professional contract with Connacht Rugby