The Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, has been named for Friday’s RBS U-20 6 Nations opener against Italy at Stadio XXV Aprile in Parma.
The Ireland Under-20 squad, led by new head coach Mike Ruddock, will be defending their Six Nations title from last and five players from the 2010 Championship squad have been named in the team to face Italy.
Winger Andrew Conway makes a return to the side from last season, along with Jordi Murphy and Niall Annett, who will captain the side. David Doyle and Brendan Macken are listed among the replacements.
Two more players who played for Ireland at last year’s IRB Junior World Championship – Andrew Boyle and Martin Moore – have made the starting line-up.
Speaking ahead of Friday’s game against Italy, Mike Ruddock said: “After winning the Championship last season, the stakes are set high for us this year. But this is a new season, a new squad and a clean slate.
“Our focus for now is on kicking off the Championship with a strong performance and while it is great to have a core of experienced players, we will be looking for the entire squad to show what they can do.
“We have prepared well and have gelled as a team. The skill level, attitude and performances of the players and of the team as a whole have been very impressive. We hope to reproduce this for the tournament.”
The Ireland Under-20s has been supported by sponsors PricewaterhouseCoopers over the last five seasons, during which time they secured a Grand Slam in 2007 and won the Championship last year.
Commenting on their support of the Under-20s, Ronan Murphy, Senior Partner, PwC, said: “We are delighted to support Irish rugby and the Under-20 squad in particular.
“Success on the pitch is determined by having the right team with the right talent playing to win. Likewise, at PwC, by having the best people working together we are committed to helping our clients tackle today’s tough business challenges.
“We wish the Under-20 squad and management success in their forthcoming RBS U-20 6 Nations Championship.”
There will be live web only coverage (Ireland only) of Friday’s match on www.rte.ie, beginning at 5.55pm. Commentary will be provided by Gary Moran and Mark McDermott.
IRELAND UNDER-20 Team & Replacements (v Italy U-20s, 2011 RBS U-20 6 Nations Championship, Stadio XXV Aprile, Parma, Friday, February 4, kick-off 7pm local time/6pm Irish time):
15 – Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster)
14 – Andrew Conway (Blackrock/Leinster)
13 – Alex Kelly (UCD/Leinster)
12 – Luke Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster)
11 – Andrew Boyle (UCD/Leinster)
10 – Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster)
9 – Blane McIlroy (Ballymena/Ulster)
1 – James Tracy (UCD/Leinster)
2 – Niall Annett (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) (capt)
3 – Martin Moore (Lansdowne/Leinster)
4 – Michael Kearney (Clontarf/Leinster)
5 – Daniel Qualter (Buccaneers/Connacht)
6 – Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
7 – Aaron Conneely (Corinthians/Connacht)
8 – Eoin McKeon (Galwegians/Connacht)
16 – David Doyle (UCD/Leinster)
17 – Conor Carey (Ballymena/Ulster)
18 – Finlay Bealham (Exile)
19 – Iain Henderson (Queen’s University/Ulster)
20 – Peter du Toit (UCD/Leinster)
21 – Cathal Marsh (Dublin University/Leinster)
22 – Brendan Macken (Blackrock/Leinster)
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