Schmidt: Domestic players will get international priority

The Ireland head coach defended his selection policy on Thursday afternoon

Schmidt: Domestic players will get international priority

Head coach Joe Schmidt Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has named a full matchday squad of domestic-based players for the match with Scotland on Saturday in the opening round of the Six Nations.

With an injury to Johnny Sexton, there is no place for the Bordeaux-Begles fly-half Ian Madigan in the 23-man squad. Munster's Ian Keatley has been named on the bench as a backup to Paddy Jackson.

Speaking at the squad announcement in Carton House, Schmidt was asked in relation to the replacement fly-half, if there was a tightening in the rule, of allowing foreign-based players to play for Ireland.

"I think with regard to that, [Keatley's] time at out-half, is not too much different than Ian Madigan's. Ian had an injury and was out for about four weeks. He's been mixing up starts and coming off the bench, as he did two weeks ago against Ulster."

"We are incredibly keen to support the provinces. If we demonstrate to the players, that we are happy to pick players from outside of Ireland, then potentially one of the big draw cards for keeping them here will be lifted. Players will more likely go overseas."

Along with Wasps prop Marty Moore, both he and Madigan have won Six Nations titles with Ireland, but have not been under consideration since leaving Leinster last season.

"They haven't gone away", Schmidt added. "I've had some good conversations with Ian lately. It's not like he has disappeared and is off the radar... It's the same with Marty. [He] was probably ahead of Tadhg [Furlong] in the Leinster hierarchy of tight-heads when Marty left, and Tadhg has come through... It has allowed an opportunity for other people."

"It's not an ideal situation not to have every player who is Irish-qualified and on the island and immediately available. The ones who are playing overseas are available but it's a fluctuating availability."

Ireland begin their Six Nations campaign on Saturday against France. You can see the full team here.