Rugby Union

Rory Best one of several Ireland stars rested for Italy Test in Chicago

Joe Schmidt has opted to rest a number of key players for Ireland’s clash with Italy in Chicago, including captain Rory Best and vice-captains Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony.

The Ireland head coach announced a 26-man squad, reduced from an initial 42, for the match at Soldier Field on Saturday.

Will Addison has moved a step closer to his Test debut by being named in an unfamiliar 26-man Ireland squad to face Italy.

Former England Under-20s star Will Addison could now make his senior international for Ireland after being named in Schimdt’s squad.

Several other senior players are to be rested by Schmidt ahead of the three matches in Dublin against Argentina, New Zealand and the USA.

British and Irish Lions forwards Iain Henderson and Sean O’Brien and full-back Rob Kearney have been left out of the squad to travel to Chicago, and scrum-half Conor Murray was not named in the original 42-man squad.

Murray admitted that the November internationals had come a little too soon for him, after sustaining a neck injury against Australia in June. Murray said his return date was still a few weeks away.

“I’d have been lucky to be named in the squad because I haven’t played and you need that, especially with the calibre of Argentina and the All Blacks in particular,” he said. “You’re going to have to be ready.

“So, I’ll be back in and around the end of November hopefully.”

Leinster playmaker Ross Byrne has also edged closer to his Test bow in making the Chicago squad, with Joey Carbery possibly pencilled in to start at fly-half.

Addison left Sale for Ulster in the summer and has since earned rave reviews for a string of fine performances with the Belfast province.

Now the 26-year-old, who qualifies for Ireland through his mother, can push for his first Test cap, when Ireland take on Conor O’Shea’s Italy in America.

Schmidt’s decision to keep some senior players fresh for the Dublin encounters also means Ireland will have a new face as captain this weekend.

Forwards: Finlay Bealham, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Dave Kilcoyne, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Andrew Porter, Quinn Roux, Rhys Ruddock, James Ryan, Niall Scannell, Devin Toner, Josh Van Der Flier

Backs: Will Addison, Bundee Aki, Ross Byrne, Joey Carberry, Andrew Conway, John Cooney, Jordan Larmour, Luke McGrath, Garry Ringrose, Jacob Stockdale, Darren Sweetnam

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