Coaches Allen Clarke and Girvan Dempsey have made 10 changes to the Emerging Ireland team for Wednesday’s round 2 match against Uruguay at the World Rugby Tbilisi Cup in Georgia.
Just Eoin Griffin, Matt Healy, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland and captain Rhys Ruddock are retained from the side that started the tournament with a 25-0 victory over Emerging Italy last Saturday.
Ruddock is joined in the back row by Frankie Taggart at openside flanker and Eoghan Masterson at number 8. Holland is partnered in the second row by Andrew Browne, with James Cronin and Dave Heffernan coming into the front row alongside Archer.
John Cooney and Rory Scannell get the opportunity to impress as the starting half-backs, while Noel Reid links up with Griffin in the centre. Peter Nelson and Cian Kelleher start in the back-three alongside Healy.
The 20-year-old Kelleher and Scannell (21) are the youngest members of a back-line that has an average age of 23, while there are four senior internationals selected to start – Ruddock, Cronin, Archer and Reid.
Rob Herring, Denis Buckley, Andrew Warwick, Ben Marshall, Dan Leavy, Jack Conan, Luke McGrath and JJ Hanrahan provide cover from the bench.
Emerging Ireland coach Allen Clarke commented: “First and foremost our thoughts are with the citizens of Tbilisi. We have luckily been unaffected by the adverse weather conditions and we are thankful to the Georgian Rugby Union for their hospitality and consideration during what is undoubtedly a very difficult and upsetting time.”
Looking ahead to the clash with Uruguay, he added: “This game offers a further opportunity for those within the squad to show that they can compete at this level. Although there were some positives from opening fixture, there were also a number of areas that we know we will need to improve to keep progressing in this tournament.”
Uruguay lost their opening fixture of the Tbilisi Cup to hosts Georgia 19-10. The South Americans will play in Pool A at the Rugby World Cup, competing with England, Australia, Wales and Fiji. Emerging Ireland will meet Georgia in the final round of the Tbilisi Cup on Sunday.
EMERGING IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Uruguay, Tbilisi Cup Round 2, Avchala Stadium, Tbilisi, Georgia, Wednesday, June 17, kick-off 5pm local time/2pm Irish time):
15. Peter Nelson (Malone/Ulster)
14. Cian Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster)
13. Eoin Griffin (London Irish)
12. Noel Reid (Clontarf/Leinster)
11. Matt Healy (Lansdowne/Connacht)
10. Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster)
9. John Cooney (Terenure College/Connacht)
1. James Cronin (Dolphin/Munster)
2. Dave Heffernan (Buccaneers/Connacht)
3. Stephen Archer (Cork Constitution/Munster)
4. Andrew Browne (Galwegians/Connacht)
5. Billy Holland (Cork Constitution/Munster)
6. Rhys Ruddock (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) (capt)
7. Frankie Taggart (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
8. Eoghan Masterson (Corinthians/Connacht)
16. Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
17. Denis Buckley (Corinthians/Connacht)
18. Andrew Warwick (Ballymena/Ulster)
19. Ben Marshall (Old Belvedere/Connacht)
20. Dan Leavy (UCD/Leinster)
21. Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
22. Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster)
23. JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Emerging Ireland Management Team –
Allen Clarke – Coach
Girvan Dempsey – Assistant Coach
Joey Miles – Manager
Jim McShane – Team Doctor
Karl Denvir – Physio
Sean Mannion – Team Analyst
Aidan O’Connell – S&C Coach
Johnny O’Hagan – Baggage Man
Carmel O’Dwyer – Squad Co-ordinator
2015 WORLD RUGBY TBILISI CUP FIXTURES/RESULTS:
Saturday, June 13 –
Emerging Italy 0 Emerging Ireland 25, Avchala Stadium
Georgia 19 Uruguay 10, Avchala Stadium
Wednesday, June 17 –
Uruguay v Emerging Ireland, Avchala Stadium, 5pm local time/2pm Irish time
Georgia v Emerging Italy, Avchala Stadium, 7pm local time
Sunday, June 21 –
Uruguay v Emerging Italy, Avchala Stadium, 5pm local time
Georgia v Emerging Ireland, Avchala Stadium, 7pm local time/4pm Irish time