Provinces take full extra player allocations

Munster, Ulster and Leinster have all given steps up to inexperienced squad members in naming their additional players for the European knockout stages next month, as former provincial Heineken Cup winners Peter Stringer and Rocky Elsom boosted squads elsewhere.

Provinces take  full extra player allocations

All three provinces called up the maximum permissable number of players ahead of the quarter-finals with Munster head coach Rob Penney adding academy prop James Cronin, scrum-half Cathal Sheridan and centre Ivan Dineen to his selection options ahead of the April 7 Heineken Cup meeting with Harlequins at The Stoop.

All three Munster players have yet to make their European debuts, and there is a similar feel to Ulster’s call-ups ahead of the Twickenham quarter-final clash with Saracens on April 6, hooker Niall Annett, prop Andrew Warwick and wing Stuart Olding.

Ulster’s planning will now have to include Namibia flanker Jacques Burger, added to Saracens’ squad by director of rugby Mark McCall after a long injury lay-off as well as young English duo Nick Auterac and Ben Ransom.

Outgoing Heineken Cup champions Leinster face London Wasps at Adams Park, Wycombe, on Friday, April 5 in their Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final with Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt adding prop Jack O’Connell to his front-row options, Ireland A flanker Dominic Ryan, whose five Heineken Cup appearances came in 2010-11, and centre Brendan Macken.

There is a wealth of experience elsewhere on the list of additional players nominated by their clubs for the forthcoming knockout stages of the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup.

Heineken Cup winner Stringer, who this week was allowed by Munster to extend his loan deal with Bath to the end of the season, was one of three players added by the English Premiership club to their Amlin Challenge Cup squad ahead of their quarter-final showdown with Stade Francais at the Rec on April 6.

Leinster legend Elsom, who captained the province to its first Heineken Cup success in 2009, was one part of a formidable duo of Toulon call-ups to the French club’s squad. The former Australia captain joins South African 1997 World Cup winner and another new Toulon signing, Danie Rossouw in being added to the squad in advance of the Heineken Cup quarter-final showdown with Leicester Tigers at Stade Felix Mayol on Sunday, April 7.

Meanwhile, Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny was yesterday named 2013 RBS 6 Nations ‘Player of the Championship’.

The Cardiff Blues star received more than 40% of the public vote after finishing the Championship as top points scorer while collecting two man of the match awards.

ERC Selected additional players:

Heineken Cup: HARLEQUINS: Jack Clifford (back row); Henry Taylor (fly-half /scrum-half); Nicholas Mayhew (prop). MUNSTER: James Cronin (prop); Ivan Dineen (centre); Cathal Sheridan (scrum-half). SARACENS: Nicholas Auterac (prop) Jacques Burger (back row); Ben Ransom (full back). TOULON: Rocky Elsom (back row); Danie Rossouw (back row). ULSTER: Niall Annett (hooker); Stuart Olding (wing); Andrew Warwick (prop)

Amlin Challenge Cup: BATH RUGBY: Peter Stringer (scrum-half). LEINSTER: Brendan Macken (centre); Jack O’Connell (prop); Dominic Ryan (flanker).

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