Ireland head coach Schmidt has named Munster's CJ Stander in his 35-player group from which he will select matchday squads for the home opener against Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, and the trip to France six days later.
Stander is one of four uncapped players named in the squad with Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey also included. There was no place for Garry Ringrose.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) January 20, 2016
Joe Schmidt has unveiled Rory Best as his new captain of the squad that hopes to get Ireland's bid for a third successive Six Nations title off to a flying start. Jamie Heaslip has been chosen as vice-captain.
"As always there were a number of tight decisions, especially with a number of players not being available to play in recent weeks,” Schmidt said.
“Stalwarts such as Mike Ross, Cian Healy and Chris Henry are all likely to return to play over the coming weeks and they, along with some of the other players not included will potentially return to the squad post these first two matches.
“There are a few new faces but at the same time we have resisted the temptation to include some of the very promising youngsters, allowing them a bit more time to develop as well as the opportunity of further game time with their provinces.”
It is a tough start for the defending champions in their first Test since the World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina on October 18.
They also face Italy and Scotland at home during the tournament and travel to play England.
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) Captain
Sean Cronin (St. Mary's College/Leinster)
James Cronin (Dolphin/Munster)
Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht)*
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster)
Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster) Vice Captain
Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Mike McCarthy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Jack McGrath (St. Mary's College/Leinster)
Martin Moore (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Sean O'Brien (UCD/Leinster)
Tommy O'Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Rhys Ruddock (St Mary's College/Leinster)
Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
CJ Stander (Munster)*
Richardt Strauss (Old Wesley/Leinster)
Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster)*
Nathan White (Connacht)
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster)
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster)
David Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster)
Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht)
Luke Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster)
Stuart McCloskey (McCloskey/Ulster)*
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
Jared Payne (Ulster)
Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Jonathan Sexton (St Mary's College/Leinster)
Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
Simon Zebo (Cork Con/Munster)