The Ireland Under-21 team - sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers- to play hosts France on the opening day of the 2006 IRB U-21 World Championship has been announced.
Coach Mark McDermott's starting line-up for the clash in Issoire on Friday (kick-off 6.00pm Irish time) shows six changes to the side that lost 40-5 to England U-21 in March in the final game of the U-21 6 Nations tournament.
The team will again be captained by Belfast Harlequins hooker Stuart Philpott. Shannon hooker Sean Cronin has been rewarded for his recent AIB League form with a place on the bench, while Leinster Academy player Devin Toner, who stands at 6ft 10in, starts in the second row.
The changes in the backline see Cork Constitution's Tom Gleeson start ahead of Darren Cave at outside centre, Kieran Hallett of the Bedford Blues comes in at out-half with Garryowen's Conan Doyle switching to inside centre with Fergus McFadden losing his place. Ballynahinch's Paul Marshall also returns at scrum half with Duncan Williams losing out.
In the pack, there are two changes in the front row and one at openside flanker. Darragh Hurley of UCC and Highfield's David Ryan are in at loosehead and tighthead prop respectively. The highly-rated David Pollock of Queen's University, who captained Ireland at April's IRB U-19 World Championship in Dubai, takes Ejike Uzoigwe's place at number 7.
McDermott's squad for the competition includes three players from last year's World Championship panel - Philpott, Doyle and UCC flanker Ross Noonan.
The Irish will be hoping to give their coach the ideal birthday present with an opening win - McDermott turns 35 on Saturday. The sides already met in this year's U-21 6 Nations in February with France running out 29-10 winners in Strasbourg.
The game is live on Setanta Sports Ireland on Friday. IrishRugby.ie will also be running a live match tracker throughout the 80 minutes.
IRELAND UNDER-21 TEAM AND REPLACEMENTS (v France U-21, Issoire, IRB U-21 World Championship, Friday, June 9):
15. Fionn Carr Blackrock College RFC
14. Peter Durcan Galwegians
13. Tom Gleeson Cork Constitution
12. Conan Doyle Garryowen
11. Matthew Williams Bristol
10. Kieran Hallett Bedford Blues
9. Paul Marshall Ballynahinch
1. Darragh Hurley UCC
2. Stuart Philpott Belfast Harlequins (captain)
3. David Ryan Highfield
4. David McGowan Buccaneers
5. Devin Toner Lansdowne
6. Ross Noonan UCC
7. David Pollock Queens University
8. Sean O'Brien UCD
16. Sean Cronin Shannon
17. Paul Doran Jones Dublin University
18. Dan Tuohy Hartpury College/Gloucester
19. Diarmuid Laffan Blackrock College RFC
20. Duncan Williams UCC
21. Darren Cave Belfast Harlequins
22. Ian Hanly UL Bohemians
Coach Mark McDermott
Manager Niall O'Shea
Asst. coach Nigel Carolan
Doctor Eanna Falvey
Physio Tara O'Meara
Masseur Regina Flanagan
Fitness Advisor Steve Richards
HPU Analyst Kurt McQuilkan
Baggage Master Jack Kiely
IRB UNDER-21 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - IRELAND FIXTURES:
Friday, June 9:
France U-21 v IRELAND U-21, Issoire, kick-off 7.00pm French time (6.00pm Irish time) (live on Setanta from 6.00pm; highlights 10.30pm)
Tuesday, June 13:
IRELAND U-21 v Argentina U-21, Cournon d'Auvergne, kick-off 5.00pm (4.00pm)
Saturday, June 17:
IRELAND U-21 v Georgia U-21, Issoire, 4.00pm (3.00pm)
Wednesday, June 21:
Matchday 4 - tbc
Sunday, June 25:
Matchday 5 - tbc