With the November Series coming to a successful conclusion and Ireland finishing the 2018 campaign 2nd in the World Rugby rankings as they enter 2019, Joe Schmidt is left with a handful of games remaining before Ireland face Scotland in Yokohama on 22nd September 2019.
The Autumn Series squad saw 42 players selected for the four internationals Ireland faced over the month. Will Addison, Ross Byrne & Sam Arnold were the only uncapped named among the extended squad as Schmidt added to the ever increasing depth at his disposal.
There were recalls for Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey and Munster wing Darren Sweetnam while some believed Mike Haley was unlucky to be excluded following some positive early season form with Munster Rugby.
The Kiwi coach at the helm of Irish Rugby has announced that he will retire from coaching and return home to his native New Zealand following the showpiece in Japan. One of the most difficult tasks left on his job spec is selecting a 31-man squad to travel to the World Cup in September.
Eleven members of the November Series squad will be forced to watch the tournament from home with the exception of maybe one bolter but it seems unlikely that Schmidt will blood any new talent in the months that remain before Ireland open their Rugby World Cup challenge against Six Nations rivals Scotland.
Ultimate Rugby have set themselves the unenviable task of selecting a 31-man squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup:
Cian Healy Jack McGrath Tadhg Furlong Andrew Porter John Ryan
Rory Best Sean Cronin Niall Scannell
Second Rows (4):
James Ryan Iain Henderson Devin Toner Tadhg Beirne
Back Rows (5):
Peter O’Mahony Sean O’Brien Dan Leavy Josh van der Flier CJ Stander
Conor Murray Kieran Marmion Luke McGrath
Johnny Sexton Joey Carbery Ross Byrne
Robbie Henshaw Bundee Aki Garry Ringrose Chris Farrell
Back Three (4):
Rob Kearney Jacob Stockdale Keith Earls Jordan Larmour
On the Fringes: Finlay Bealham, Rob Herring, Quinn Roux, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Will Addison