Ronan Gormley has been named skipper for the foreseeable future as part of a five-strong leadership team in a similar-style to the one employed under the previous management. Paddy Brown wore the armband in those days, supported by the likes of Mark Irwin and Jason Black.
Speaking about their absence, new Irish coach Paul Revington explains “The Irish Team will miss these influential players in the upcoming games versus France, however the short term loss will be a long term gain as John is released to conclude another level of his studies, and Stephen is allowed some time off to refresh and re-energise before a busy schedule in the summer. Tim is still recovering from an injury and I look forward to his return in the coming weeks."
Watt and Jermyn had both already been allowed leave due to upcoming exams. It means Revington's squad is pared down to 19 for the visit of "les Bleus".