Gary Brown, Sean Cronin, Donnacha Ryan and David Pollock have all be included in the Ireland ‘A’ team for Saturday’s Barclays Churchill Cup clash with England Saxons at Fletcher’s Field in Toronto (kick-off 2.05pm local time/7.05pm Irish time).
The Ireland ‘A’ management, headed by IRFU High Performance Manager Allen Clarke, have made four changes to the team that beat the USA 46-9 in Wednesday’s encounter in Kingston.
Leinster winger Gary Brown wins his first ‘A’ cap since February’s defeat to Scotland ‘A’ in Perth, replacing Ulster youngster Mark McCrea on the right wing.
The rest of the back-line is unchanged with the Leinster-Munster axis of Jonathan Sexton and Tomas O’Leary retained at half-back.
Sean Cronin is preferred to his Munster colleague Denis Fogarty at hooker and another Munster man, Donnacha Ryan, has gotten the nod to partner team captain Bob Casey in the second row.
In the fourth and final change, former Ireland Under-20 skipper David Pollock will start at openside flanker having impressed as a replacement in the American game, just as Cronin and Ryan did.
In all, there are six senior-capped players in the matchday squad, while Darren Cave’s selection on the replacements bench brings the number of players included from the 2007 Grand Slam-winning Under-20 side to five (Keith Earls, Cian Healy, Pollock and Ian Keatley being the others).
A win for Clarke’s men in Toronto would see them qualify for the Churchill Cup final for the first time. Scotland ‘A’ await in Saturday week’s decider, which will be played at Toyota Park in Chicago.
Ireland ‘A’ did edge out the Saxons in a memorable plate final at the 2006 Churchill Cup but the English men have won the sides’ two most recent encounters – 32-5 at Ravenhill in February last year and 31-13 at Welford Road four months ago.
Tonight’s game is live on Sky Sports 1. We will also be running our MatchDay Live service here on the site for those who cannot pick up the television coverage.
IRELAND ‘A’ TEAM & REPLACEMENTS (v England Saxons, Barclays Churchill Cup, Fletcher’s Field, Saturday, June 14, 2.05pm local time/7.05pm Irish time):
15 – Denis Hurley (Cork Constitution/Munster)
14 – Gary Brown (Blackrock College/Leinster)
13 – *Kieran Lewis (Garryowen/Munster)
12 – Keith Earls (Garryowen/Munster)
11 – Brian Tuohy (Cornish Pirates)
10 – Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
9 – *Tomas O’Leary (Dolphin/Munster)
1 – Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
2 – Sean Cronin (Shannon/Munster)
3 – Mike Ross (Harlequins)
4 – Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
5 – *Bob Casey (London Irish) (capt)
6 – *Neil Best (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
7 – David Pollock (Dungannon/Ulster)
8 – *Roger Wilson (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
16 – Denis Fogarty (Cork Constitution/Munster)
17 – Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)
18 – Ryan Caldwell (Dungannon/Ulster)
19 – *Johnny O’Connor (Corinthians/Connacht)
20 – Frank Murphy (Leicester)
21 – Ian Keatley (Clontarf/Leinster)
22 – Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
* Capped at full international level
Coach – Allen Clarke
Assistant Coach – Dave O’Mahony
Team Manager – John McKibbin
Ireland ‘A’ Tournament Schedule:
Wednesday, June 11: USA 9 Ireland ‘A’ 46, Richardson Stadium, Kingston
Saturday, June 14: Ireland ‘A’ v England Saxons at Fletcher’s Fields, Toronto
Saturday, June 21: Barclays Churchill Cup finals day at Toyota Park, Chicago