Ireland head coach Declan Kidney has left four places in the squad to tour New Zealand for a three-match Test series vacant in the hope key players can recover from injury.
There are still unfilled places for three forwards and one back in the squad, as Kidney is waiting to hear whether several players can tour after a gruelling season.
Veteran lock Paul O'Connell is one of the players Kidney will be hoping can make the tour, while the big second row battles his way back to fitness following a knee operation.
Leinster centre Brian O'Driscoll makes a return to the squad for the first time since the World Cup and will start as captain for the Tests on June 9, 16 and 23.
He returned from injury on Saturday to lead the Irish province to its third European Cup triumph in the space of four seasons, beating Ulster 42-14 at Twickenham in an all-Irish final.
There are also three uncapped players in the squad already, with Test matches in New Zealand against the world champions a potential baptism of fire for the trio.
Ulster prop Declan Fitzpatrick and hooker Mike Sherry of Munster were included up front while Sherry's teammate wing Simon Zebo is in the backs, alongside Ulster centre Darren Cave, who won two caps on Ireland's north America tour three years ago.
Kidney told a news conference in Dublin that it was a "fantastic opportunity" for Fitzpatrick, Sherry and Zebo to play against New Zealand and they had made the side on merit.
He described the upcoming tour as "like three Heineken Cup finals" and that Ireland had everything to gain from the trip.
"We're eighth (in the world rankings). The gap between Ireland and New Zealand is there and there's nothing to lose... We must perform well," he told reporters.
Kidney also said it was important to have the strongest squad possible, which was why he had not named a full squad.
"You don't experiment in matches against New Zealand. It's akin to experimenting in Heineken playoff matches. You need to go for it," he added.
Forwards: Rory Best, Sean Cronin, Stephen Ferris, Declan Fitzpatrick, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien, Donncha O'Callaghan, Peter O'Mahony, Mike Ross, Donnacha Ryan, Mike Sherry, Dan Tuohy, A.N. Other, A.N. Other, A.N. Other.
Backs: Darren Cave, Gordon D'Arcy, Keith Earls, Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Conor Murray, Brian O'Driscoll (captain), Ronan O'Gara, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton, Andrew Trimble, Simon Zebo, A.N. Other.
AFP and rugby365.com
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