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Kidney unveils Ireland squad
Ireland head coach Declan Kidney has named three uncapped players in his 29-man squad for the three-Test summer tour to world champions New Zealand.
Ulster prop Declan Fitzpatrick and Munster duo Mike Sherry and Simon Zebo have all been included for the series, which gets under way on Saturday, June 9.
Kidney has left four spaces available, with a second row slot being held for Paul O'Connell as he continues to recuperate from a knee injury that ruled him out of the squad to face the Barbarians on May 29.
Ireland meet the invitational side at Gloucester's Kingsholm ground before travelling to New Zealand, with uncapped trio Fitzpatrick, Sherry and Zebo all selected. Kidney was not able to call on the services of his Leinster contingent for the non-cap fixture as the province meet the Ospreys in the RaboDirect Pro12 final on May 27.
But with Leinster capturing their third Heineken Cup in four years with a 42-14 triumph over Ulster on Saturday, they are unsurprisingly heavily represented for the tour to face the All Blacks.
Eleven players have been selected in total, the most notable of which sees Brian O'Driscoll return for the first time since the World Cup following a shoulder injury and he has been confirmed as captain for the tour.
O'Driscoll, Fitzpatrick, Sherry and Darren Cave are the four new faces to the squad that was chosen for the RBS 6 Nations. Cave will be hoping to add to the two caps he picked up in the North American tour in 2009. The other three vacant slots will be filled before the squad departs for New Zealand.
They are expected to be filled by South African born prop Brett Wilkinson, who will replace the injured Tom Court, Ulster back rower Chris Henry and Leinster scrum-half Isaac Boss. Ireland will first face the All Blacks at Eden Park in Auckland, with Rugby League Park in Christchurch and Hamilton's Waikato Stadium the other venues on June 16 and June 23 respectively.
Ireland squad: Forwards: R Best (Ulster), S Cronin (Leinster), S Ferris (Ulster), D Fitzpatrick (Ulster), C Healy (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster), S O'Brien (Leinster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Mahony (Munster), M Ross (Leinster), D Ryan (Munster), M Sherry (Munster), D Tuohy (Ulster), A N Other, A N Other, A N Other.
Backs: D Cave (Ulster), G D'Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), R Kearney (Leinster), F McFadden (Leinster), C Murray (Munster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, captain), R O'Gara (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster), J Sexton (Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster), S Zebo (Munster), A.N. Other.