Head coach Richie Murphy has named the Ireland team, sponsored by PwC, for Friday’s opening match of the Under-20 Six Nations against Wales at Musgrave Park (kick-off 8pm).
Reuben Crothers will captain his country as the Ireland U-20s return to their Cork home for a Championship fixture for the first time since March 2020. Buy tickets for Friday’s game here.
Crothers is one of four players named in Murphy’s starting XV who featured during last summer’s rescheduled Six Nations campaign.
Second row Mark Morrissey has been ever-present for Ireland in the engine room during the lead-in to the 2022 Six Nations, while prop Jack Boyle and winger Chay Mullins also add previous U-20 experience to Friday’s selection.
Patrick Campbell, who made his Munster senior debut against Wasps before Christmas, starts at full-back, with Mullins and Shane Mallon on the wings.
Leinster duo Fionn Gibbons and Ben Brownlee are paired together in midfield, while Lansdowne regular Charlie Tector and Connacht scrum half Matthew Devine fill the half-back berths.
Boyle starts in the front row alongside Ulster duo James McCormick and Scott Wilson, and Morrissey is joined in the second row by his UCD club-mate, Conor O’Tighearnaigh.
Crothers leads from the back row, with James McNabney of Ulster selected at openside flanker and Leinster’s James Culhane in the number 8 position.
Murphy will be hoping his bench can make a big impact, with Josh Hanlon, Oisin Michel, Rory McGuire, Adam McNamee and Ronan O’Sullivan providing the options up front.
Ethan Coughlan and Tony Butler, the Munster Academy half-backs, and Aitzol King complete the matchday 23.
Looking forward to the Six Nations opener, the Ireland head coach commented: “We have been building towards Friday for a number of weeks now and the group have put in a huge amount of work in preparation for the Six Nations.
“We’re excited about the challenges ahead, starting with the visit of Wales to Musgrave Park under ‘Friday Night Lights’.
“The prospect of returning to Cork and playing in front of a big crowd, including family and friends, is a really exciting one for the players and the management team.”
IRELAND UNDER-20 Team & Replacements (v Wales Under-20s, 2022 U-20 Six Nations Championship, Musgrave Park, Friday, February 4, kick-off 8pm):
15. Patrick Campbell (Young Munster RFC/Munster)
14. Chay Mullins (Bristol Bears/IQ Rugby)
13. Fionn Gibbons (UCD RFC/Leinster)
12. Ben Brownlee (UCD RFC/Leinster)
11. Shane Mallon (UCD RFC/Leinster)
10. Charlie Tector (Lansdowne FC/Leinster)
9. Matthew Devine (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
1. Jack Boyle (UCD RFC/Leinster)
2. James McCormick (Ballymena RFC/Ulster)
3. Scott Wilson (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)
4. Conor O’Tighearnaigh (UCD RFC/Leinster)
5. Mark Morrissey (UCD RFC/Leinster)
6. James McNabney (Ballymena RFC/Ulster)
7. Reuben Crothers (Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster) (capt)
8. James Culhane (UCD RFC/Leinster)
16. Josh Hanlon (Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster)
17. Oisin Michel (Lansdowne FC/Leinster)
18. Rory McGuire (UCD RFC/Leinster)
19. Adam McNamee (Malone RFC/Ulster)
20. Ronan O’Sullivan (Highfield RFC/Munster)
21. Ethan Coughlan (Shannon RFC/Munster)
22. Tony Butler (Garryowen FC/Munster)
23. Aitzol King (Clontarf FC/Leinster)