The Ireland Under-20 team (sponsored by PwC) to face Pool B winners New Zealand in the World Rugby U-20 Championship on Thursday (3.30pm local time/12.30pm Irish time) has been confirmed by head coach Peter Malone.
There are 12 personnel changes to the Ireland U-20 side that lost an eight-try thriller to Scotland last Sunday, with only Jack Kelly, who takes over from Paul Boyle as captain, Alan Tynan and Sean Masterson retained.
Kelly and Masterson have moved positions, starting at outside centre and number 8 respectively, while the raft of newcomers include U-20 debutants David McCarthy and Liam Coombes in the back-line.
There are also first starts at this age-grade for Shannon duo Conor Fitzgerald and Adam Moloney, Trinity flyer Michael Silvester and Lansdowne prop Greg McGrath.
Moloney and McGrath will pack down with UL Bohemians loosehead Joey Conway in the front row, with Gavin Coombes and Jack Regan pairing up in a new-look second row. Masterson will be joined in the back row by Marcus Rea and John Foley, the third Shannon player in the starting XV.
Fitzgerald, who was called up to the squad this week as an injury replacement, slots in at half-back alongside the returning Jonny Stewart from Queen’s University. Garryowen talent McCarthy, who has impressed for the Ireland U-19s this season, partners skipper Kelly in midfield.
Young Munster starlet Tynan will win his third U-20 cap from full-back, anchoring a back-three that is completed by Garryowen’s Liam Coombes, who arrived in recent days as an injury replacement, and Silvester who made his debut off the bench against the Scots.
At the Captain’s Run today at Kutaisi Stadium, Malone said: “It’s been a difficult opening to the tournament for the team, but we have a young side and while everyone is disappointed that the results haven’t gone our way so far, the players will have gained a lot from those two games.
“There’s more players gaining their first Under-20s caps tomorrow so it gives them the opportunity to show what they can do in an Ireland jersey. New Zealand have looked impressive in their opening matches against Scotland and Italy, so we will need to take the ‘learnings’ from our opening games and be ready for a huge test.”
Thursday’s clash of the Ireland and New Zealand Under-20s will be broadcast live on eir Sport 1 and will be available to watch via www.worldrugby.org in certain countries.
IRELAND UNDER-20 Team & Replacements (v New Zealand Under-20s, 2017 World Rugby U-20 Championship Pool B, Kutaisi Stadium, Kutaisi, Georgia, Thursday, June 8, kick-off 3.30pm local time/12.30pm Irish time):
15. Alan Tynan (Young Munster/Munster)
14. Michael Silvester (Dublin University/Leinster)
13. Jack Kelly (Dublin University/Leinster) (capt)
12. David McCarthy (Garryowen/Munster) *
11. Liam Coombes (Garryowen/Munster) *
10. Conor Fitzgerald (Shannon/Munster)
9. Jonny Stewart (Queen’s University/Ulster)
1. Joey Conway (UL Bohemians/Munster)
2. Adam Moloney (Shannon/Munster)
3. Greg McGrath (Lansdowne/Leinster)
4. Gavin Coombes (Young Munster/Munster)
5. Jack Regan (UCD/Leinster)
6. Marcus Rea (Queen’s University/Ulster)
7. John Foley (Shannon/Munster)
8. Sean Masterson (Corinthians/Connacht)
16. Ronan Kelleher (UCD/Leinster)
17. Jordan Duggan (Naas/Leinster)
18. Charlie Connolly (Dublin University/Leinster)
19. Fineen Wycherley (Young Munster/ Munster)
20. Caelan Doris (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
21. Jack Stafford (Shannon/Munster)
22. Conor Dean (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
23. Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster)
* Denotes uncapped player at U-20 level
IRELAND U-20s’ World Rugby Championship Fixtures/Results:
Pool B –
Ireland 21 Italy 22 – Match Report
Kutaisi Stadium, Kutaisi, Wednesday, May 31
Ireland 28 Scotland 32 – Match Report
Kutaisi Stadium, Kutaisi, Sunday, June 4
Ireland v New Zealand
Kutaisi Stadium, Kutaisi, Thursday, June 8, 3.30pm local time/12.30pm Irish time
Avchala Stadium or Mikheil Meskhi Stadium, Tbilisi, Tuesday, June 13
Avchala Stadium or Mikheil Meskhi Stadium, Tbilisi, Sunday, June 18