Andrew Trimble, Ireland Players’ Player of the Year in 2014, is one of the major casualties after Joe Schmidt opted to leave the Ulsterman out of his 31-man RWC 2015 squad.
The 30-year-old missed the whole of the Six Nations with a toe injury but returned to action for the first of the two warm-up matches against Wales. However, he lasted only 33 minutes of the match at the Millennium Stadium before his old injury flared up again, and Schmidt has decided on Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Dave Kearney and Tommy Bowe for the four wing positions.
Seven of Trimble’s Ulster teammates are named though, including centre Darren Cave, who has won just nine caps since making his debut back in 2009.
Conor Murray and Eoin Reddan are the only specialist nines in the backs, with fly-half Ian Madigan covering the position if needed.
In the forwards, tight-head Tadhg Furlong impressed sufficiently on debut against Wales to be selected ahead of Michael Bent. Furlong will be one of 17 players making their Rugby World Cup debuts.
Paul O'Connell will lead the squad in England and Wales after making his final appearance for Ireland on home soil last weekend, with Donnacha Ryan also making the plane after making a successful return from his foot problem. O’Connell is the only test centurion (103 caps) in a squad boasting a total of 1,043 caps at an average of 34 per player.
Schmidt confirmed that selecting the squad was one of the most difficult tasks his coaching group have faced.
"The players have worked incredibly hard over the past two months. Sunday was a difficult and very long day for the coaching team and an anxious one for many players. There were some very tight decisions, particularly in the back three and it was also a challenge to make sure that key positions were covered as much as a squad of 31 players allows.
"A number of players were very unlucky to miss selection. We know from observing past World Cups that it's important for us to keep track of their performances because some of them are likely to be involved in the tournament.”
Ireland are in Pool D alongside Canada, Romania, Italy and France. Ireland's first match of the tournament is against Canada at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on 19 September.
Ireland RWC 2015 squad
Forwards: Rory Best, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Sean O'Brien, Paul O'Connell (captain), Peter O'Mahony, Mike Ross, Donnacha Ryan, Richardt Strauss, Devin Toner, Nathan White.
Backs: Tommy Bowe, Darren Cave, Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Robbie Henshaw, Paddy Jackson, David Kearney, Rob Kearney, Ian Madigan, Conor Murray, Jared Payne, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton, Simon Zebo.
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