Published Thursday, 23 January 2014
Keith Earls has been ruled out of the Six Nations. (© Getty)
The Munster player has been ruled out with knee ligament damage and is expected to be on the sidelines for between six and eight weeks.
The 26-year-old's luckless injury run continues, after he limped out of Munster's 38-6 Heineken Cup victory over Edinburgh.
Earls signed a new two-year IRFU contract this week, rejecting strong overtures from Aviva Premiership and French Top 14 clubs.
Now he will sit out Ireland's Six Nations challenge as new head coach Joe Schmidt takes control of his first championship.
"Obviously we're really disappointed about Keith," said Schmidt.
"I think Keith is a super player and it's disappointing that we will be without him."
This weekend the Ireland Wolfhounds take on the England Saxons at Kingsholm on Saturday in a warm up for the forthcoming Six Nations.
Five Ulster players have been included in the squad for the clash.
They include, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, Dan Tuohy, Darren Cave and Craig Gilroy.
Gilroy, who was called into the Ireland squad earlier this week will see the game as a good chance to impress before the tournament opens.
Leinster flanker Rhys Ruddock will captain the Wolfhounds.
Dublin-born Ruddock, the son of former Wales and current Ireland Under-20s coach Mike Ruddock, has one senior Ireland cap, as an injury call-up to the 2010 summer Australia tour.
The 23-year-old will lead the squad which also features Leinster hooker Richardt Strauss who is back in action just three months after undergoing heart surgery.
Munster wing Simon Zebo takes a seat on the bench as he steps up his return from long-term foot trouble.
And Connacht's Kieran Marmion is named among the replacements after European Rugby Cup took no further action following his citing in the Heineken Cup defeat at Saracens at the weekend.
A Heineken Cup disciplinary committee ruled Marmion's act of foul play did not warrant a red card, leaving him free to face the England second string side in Gloucester.
Fast-developing Leinster tighthead Martin Moore starts in the front row, with former Gloucester lock Dan Tuohy making a return to his old stomping ground.
Cardiff Blues' Munster-bound number eight Robin Copeland has a chance to impress, while Isaac Boss and Ian Madigan form an experienced half-back duo.
© UTV News