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Wolfhounds Duo Relish Ravenhill Return

Wolfhounds Duo Relish Ravenhill Return

Ian Humphreys and Darren Cave, who both saw action as second half replacements against England Saxons, are hoping to take centre stage for the Ireland Wolfhounds when they entertain Scotland ‘A’ at Ravenhill on Friday (kick-off 7.30pm).

Having had their seven-match winning streak ended by the Saxons in Bath, the newly-named Ireland Wolfhounds will be doubly keen to put Scotland ‘A’ to the sword in Belfast and kickstart the international weekend with a win.

Michael Bradley’s men played Scotland ‘A’ at the RDS this time last year, with a penalty try and touchdowns from Jonathan Sexton, John Muldoon and Eoin Reddan helping the home side to a 35-10 victory.

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Of course, both Sexton and Muldoon have gone on to be capped at senior level and a quick scan through the Irish ‘A’ squad from that night reveals that Darren Cave, Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross and Sean O’Brien have also collected Test caps since then.

One player who is hoping to follow them in making the step-up to the senior grade is Ian Humphreys, the Ulster out-half who is set to get a run out at Ravenhill later this week.

Humphreys kicked a conversion and three penalties when the Irish ‘A’ side comfortably beat Tonga in Belfast in November and he is looking forward to lining out for his country again on his home pitch.

“We’re looking forward to playing at Ravenhill. Obviously I played a couple of months ago against Tonga. The atmosphere was really good (that night) and it’s always nice to play at Ravenhill, whether that’s for an Irish side or Ulster,” he said.

Comparing the build-up to Ireland ‘A’ games as against his time with Ulster, Humphreys admitted: “There’s a lot less time together, so the Ireland ‘A’ sessions are a bit more organisational – to try and get stuff ready for games.

“It’s nice to mix with the other players from other provinces, and it’s usually good fun especially when it’s up around Belfast.”

The 27-year-old has seen how the graph of Leinster man Sexton has risen in the past twelve months, and is obviously determined to work his way into Declan Kidney’s plans for future matches.  

“You just look at Johnny Sexton who was playing in the two ‘A’ games over the Six Nations period last year, and look where he is now. He’s done very well.

“If you can perform well at ‘A’ level, then hopefully that’s a signal to the senior coach that you can maybe make the step-up to full international level,” added Humphreys.

His Ulster and Ireland ‘A’ colleague, Darren Cave, is also excited about the prospect of facing the Scots and impressing the senior coaches.

The talented centre scored two tries in that 48-19 triumph over Tonga and is obviously eager to get a start, after Fergus McFadden and Keith Matthews formed the starting midfield combination against the Saxons.

“I’m really hoping to be involved. The game against Tonga in November was the first time I’d played in green at Ravenhill,” he said.

“I have to say I really enjoyed it and I thought all the supporters in Belfast really got behind us, we got a great crowd out and it was a great result. It was a really enjoyable night all round.”

But with Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh riding high in the Magners League – they are first and third respectively in the table – Cave knows recording a win on Friday will be no easy task for Bradley’s charges.

“I’ve played against Scotland ‘A’ a couple of times, last year at the RDS and previously in the Churchill Cup.

“For a country that only has two professional teams, they’ve a lot of depth. Their ‘A’ side is always very strong and both Edinburgh and Glasgow are playing extremely well at the moment.

“Whether I’ll be playing or not, either way it’s going to be a great game. A very tough game, very close.”