Ireland Under-20 coach Eric Elwood has made four changes, two positional and two personnel, to the Irish team (sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers) to play the French U-21s at Dubarry Park on Friday night.
Cian Healy, known more as a hooker with Ireland’s underage sides, comes in as loosehead prop in place of David Millard and Tommy O’Donnell moves up from the replacements to openside flanker, with captain David Pollock slotting in at number 8 in place of hamstring injury victim Sean O’Brien.
Kevin Sheahan is promoted to the bench to fill O’Donnell’s position.
Commenting on the game, Elwood said: “Last week’s performance against Wales showed all the guts and character that I could have asked for from the lads. To come back in the manner we did was tremendous and we showed some great skills, in the process, by taking the game to Wales after the pressure they put on us from the start.
“This next game is a different challenge and France will be just as strong as Wales, if not stronger. Playing at home is a big plus for us and we are really looking forward to the atmosphere of a packed Dubarry Park. Hopefully the local fans can make it as intimidating as possible and that we can give them a performance to shout about,” added the former Connacht and Ireland out-half.
“While we have lost Sean O’Brien to injury, the back row and the entire pack last week played exceptionally well and certainly a lot of people stood up and took notice of our back line, with Felix Jones certainly standing out.”
IRELAND UNDER-20 TEAM AND REPLACEMENTS (v France U-21, Dubarry Park, Friday, February 9, kick-off 7.30pm):
15 – Felix Jones (Seapoint/Leinster)
14 – Shane Monahan (Dublin University/Leinster)
13 – Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
12 – Aidan Wynne (Buccaneers/Connacht)
11 – Keith Earls (Thomond/Munster)
10 – Ian Keatley (UCD/Leinster)
9 – Paul O’Donohoe (UCD/Leinster)
1 – Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
2 – Richard Sweeney (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
3 – Jamie Hagan (Greystones/Leinster)
4 – Conor McInerney (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
5 – Andrew Browne (Galwegians/Connacht)
6 – Thomas Anderson (Dungannon/Ulster)
7 – Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster)
8 – David Pollock (QUB/Ulster) (capt)
16 – Ger Slattery (Young Munster/Munster)
17 – Ruaidhri Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
18 – Neilus Keogh (UCC/Munster)
19 – Kevin Sheahn (UCD/Leinster)
20 – David Drake (Ballymena/Ulster)
21 – Niall O’Connor (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
22 – Kyle Tonetti (UCD/Leinster)
Manager – Phil Orr
Coach – Eric Elwood
Assistant Coach – Dan McFarland
Six Nations Under-20 Fixtures:
Ireland U-20 v France U-20, Friday, February 9, Dubarry Park, kick-off 7.30pm
Ireland U-20 v England U-20, Friday, February 23, Dubarry Park, kick-off 7.30pm
Scotland U-20 v Ireland U-20, Friday, March 9, Falkirk Stadium, kick-off 7.30pm
Italy U-20 v Ireland U-20, Friday, March 16, Benevento, Santa Colomba Stadium, kick-off tbc