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Geordan in the frame for Irish opener

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Geordan Murphy has been included in Ireland’s 22-man squad for the opening game of the RBS 6 Nations against Italy.

The Leicester Tigers full-back, who has 52 senior caps, is among the 10 backs named in the squad by national coach Eddie O’Sullivan.

There are several new faces named for the first time in an RBS Six Nations match squad, including Leinster hooker Bernard Jackman, No8 Jamie Heaslip and wing Robert Kearney who all played against Murphy for Leinster last weekend.

O’Sullivan said: “The selection was made on the basis of form and, while the response of all of the squad over the last week has been excellent, there were some tight calls to be made. This will be even harder to do next week when we decide the final selection for the game.”

Ireland squad (v Italy, TBS 6 Nations Championship, Croke Park, February 2):
Rory Best (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
Tony Buckley (Shannon/Munster)
Simon Easterby (Llanelli)
John Hayes (Bruff/Munster)
Jamie Heaslip (Clontarf/Leinster)
Marcus Horan (Shannon/Munster)
Bernard Jackman (Clontarf/Leinster)
Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Mick O’Driscoll (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Malcolm O’Kelly (St.Mary’s College/Leinster)
David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster)

Girvan Dempsey (Terenure College/Leinster)
Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Robert Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
Geordan Murphy (Leicester Tigers)
Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster)
Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Eoin Reddan (London Wasps)
Peter Stringer (Shannon/Munster)
Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
Paddy Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster)