The Ireland Under-20 coaches will have their work cut out for them as Friday saw a number of the Ireland Under-19 Schools players throw their hats into the ring for the IRB Junior World Championship squad in Argentina next June.
The Ireland Under-19 Schools side, sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, delivered a sterling effort in Friday’s international clash with Australia at Belfield.
A number of eye-catching performances helped Ireland lead Australia at half-time before succumbing to a 31-14 defeat to the tourists.
“It is difficult to single out anybody. I would say there were half-a-dozen guys that are in the shake up for the Under-20 World Championship,” said Schools coach Bobby Byrne afterwards.
“This will be used as a screening process for the Junior World Championship in Argentina. The Ireland Under-19 Clubs side will play Australia in Cork next Wednesday. It will be an amalgam of the two sides that will prepare for Argentina.”
The stand-out performers for Ireland on Friday were half-backs Blane McIlroy and Paddy Jackson, centre JJ Hanrahan, hooker Kieran Stokes and locks Robert Hynes and Emmett MacMahon, who led by example as captain.
The Irish were impressive in the way they put their limited preparation time to one side to challenge the Australians head-on in the contact area.
Byrne, who coached the squad together with Terry McMaster, explained: “Overall, we are very happy. We had a limited amount of time together with the boys to prepare for this match.
“We’ve had two sessions over the last few days we have been here and another over the mid-term break at the end of October.”
It certainly was not enough to last the pace against the well-structured and, at times, off the cuff approach of the tourists.
“The Australians capitalised on a couple of errors we made ourselves which was the disappointing aspect of it,” he added.
To read a full match report from the Ireland Under-19 Schools v Australian Schoolboys fixture, click here.