After the Six Nations championship a host of fringe players played their way into contention for selection for the World Cup in Japan. The loss of form to some front line players and injuries allowed Joe Schmidt to dive deep into his talented player pool in search of solutions.
Following a very successful November period, the 31-man squad almost picked itself, following a Grand Slam and a victory over the All Blacks in Dublin.
We have selected a host of players who enhanced their credentials with a view to the World Cup in September.
The powerful Leinster back row played three times during the Six Nations as he deputized for the injured CJ Stander in Round Two. Conan made the most of opportunities over the tournament and gave Joe Schmidt a selection headache for the final rounds of action. He offers a different skill set to Stander and is without doubt a more dynamic ball carrier who possesses a offloading threat after contact.
The Munster prop played four games in the Six Nations under Declan Kidney but had to wait until this year's tournament to add to that total. He made five appearances off the bench as he finally replaced Jack McGrath as Ireland's second choice loose head, in the final months of Joe Schmidt's tenure. The Limerick man impressed with his powerful ball carrying and scrummaging off the bench.
Surprising named in the Six Nations squad ahead of Leinster flyhalf Ross Byrne, Carty staked his claim for the third choice flyhalf role with a series of impressive cameos off the bench against Italy, Wales and Scotland. The Connacht flyhalf became the club’s leading points scorer in his first game back from international duty.
The rampaging lock enhanced his position in the locking charts for Ireland with a couple of big impacts off the bench. His stint off the bench against France included six carries and a lineout steal in a 23 minute cameo. He made his third Ireland start against Italy which is a major positive as he missed out on selection for last year's tournament.