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Ireland include Strauss in squad
ESPN Staff
October 24, 2012
Leinster's Richardt Strauss thunders forward, Leinster v Montpellier, Heineken Cup, RDS, Dublin, Ireland, January 21, 2012
Leinster's Richardt Strauss is in the Ireland mix © PA Photos
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Ireland have named four uncapped players in their squad ahead of the November internationals.

Declan Kidney has opted to blood Munster prop David Kilcoyne, Leinster hooker Richardt Strauss, Ulster back-rower Iain Henderson and his team-mate Luke Marshall. Strauss, born and raised in South Africa but uncapped by the Springboks, qualifies for Ireland on residency grounds this month having represented Leinster since 2009.

But one key omission is British & Lions full-back Rob Kearney. He was left out from the 31-man squad after being told he requires surgery on his back. The reigning European player of the year is expected to be out for eight to 10 weeks. The 26-year-old had played just 32 minutes of rugby this season because of the back problem, but had hoped to return to action this weekend.

His absence leaves Ireland short on options to fill the number 15 jersey with Luke Fitzgerald and Gavin Duffy injured, Felix Jones left out of the 31 after recently returning from a spell in the treatment room and Geordan Murphy having retired from Test rugby. Munster's Keith Earls is the most obvious choice to replace Kearney, although he is currently out with a groin problem, while Tommy Bowe is also an option.

While Kearney will miss the November games, Kidney has bolstered his backroom staff with Munster assistant coach Anthony Foley brought in to focus on their defence. Assistant coach Les Kiss will look after the backs while Greg Feek will preside over the scrum.

"I'm pleased that Anthony has taken up the offer of working with the squad to assist during this vital period in November," Kidney said. "His previous experience of working with the team during the last Six Nations championship was important, but his own abilities and experience were central to bringing him on board. I would like to thank Rob Penney and Joe Schmidt for being so positive and giving Anthony Foley and Greg [Feek] the scope to be part of the plans that we have."

Foley described the opportunity as something he could not pass up and Kidney wants his team to put in a good showing come November after losing all three Tests to the All Blacks on their June tour.

"We have three incredibly competitive games ahead of us in November and while there have been quite a few injuries and niggles in the early part of the season, it has opened up opportunities for other players to step into the squad," Kidney said. "There are world ranking points on offer, so the underlying challenge for us is to work towards retaining and improving our ranking position ahead of the Rugby World Cup pool draw.

"While that is the end goal, our focus will be getting our preparations right to match the intensity of international games."

Ireland face South Africa on November 10 and then Fiji at Thomond Park a week later in an uncapped international. They conclude their three-game series with a match against Argentina on November 24.

Ireland squad:

Forwards: Rory Best (Ulster), Tom Court (Ulster), Stephen Ferris (Ulster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Chris Henry (Ulster), David Kilcoyne (Munster), John Muldoon (Connacht), Mike McCarthy (Connacht), Kevin McLaughlin (Leinster), Donncha O'Callaghan (Munster), Paul O'Connell (Munster), Peter O'Mahony (Munster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), Richardt Strauss (Leinster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster)

Backs: Tommy Bowe (Ulster), Darren Cave (Ulster), Gordon D'Arcy (Leinster), Keith Earls (Munster), Luke Marshall (Ulster), Conor Murray (Munster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster - captain), Ronan O'Gara (Munster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster), Simon Zebo (Munster)

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