The Ireland Under-20s, sponsored by PwC, face familiar opponents and reigning Six Nations champions England as they bid to get their IRB Junior World Championship campaign off to a winning start in Treviso.
2011 IRB JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: POOL C: Friday, June 10
IRELAND U-20s v ENGLAND U-20s , Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso, 6.10pm local time/5.10pm Irish time (live Sky Sports 4/www.irb.com/jwc)
Team News: Ireland Under-20 head coach Mike Ruddock has made 11 changes to the team that faced England in their last outing of the RBS Under-20 6 Nations earlier in the year.
Craig Gilroy will start at full-back and is joined in an exciting back-three by the experienced Andrew Conway and Andrew Boyle. Leinster’s Brendan Macken and Luke Marshall from Ulster make up the centre pairing.
Paddy Jackson, another player with Magners League experience, starts at out-half and is partnered at half-back by newcomer Kieran Marmion.
Hooker and captain Niall Annett will be joined in the front row by James Tracy and Tadhg Furlong, with Iain Henderson combining with Michael Kearney in the second row.
The pack is completed by flankers Jordi Murphy and Dominic Gallagher and number 8 Eoin McKeon from Connacht.
Looking forward to leading the side again, Annett said: “The target is to win the tournament. It would be unprofessional and we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t believe we could.
“We’re trying to bring a new generation of Irish rugby to the forefront, so we’ll give it our best shot if we at some point met the New Zealanders.”
Meanwhile, England will field the same team that beat Ireland 46-15 in Athlone back in March to claim their first Grand Slam at this level since 2008.
Newcastle Falcons number 8 Alex Gray will skipper the side coached by Rob Hunter, while Aviva Premiership winner Owen Farrell has been included among the replacements.
Harlequins lock Sam Twomey and London Irish winger Marland Yarde are poised to make their England U-20 debuts off the bench.
Leicester Tigers out-half George Ford said that this game will be different to the Six Nations clash a few months ago, but accepts that England need to concentrate on themselves.
“Ireland were missing a few players last time we played them and they’ll be back now. It’s a different game, it’s a different environment and different things are at stake,” he said.
“We’ve got to focus on ourselves and our own game, we’ll give them the upmost respect but ultimately it’s about us and how we play on the day.”
IRELAND U-20: Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster); Andrew Conway (Blackrock/Leinster), Brendan Macken (Blackrock/Leinster), Luke Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster), Andrew Boyle (UCD/Leinster); Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster), Kieran Marmion (UWIC/Exile); James Tracy (UCD/Leinster), Niall Annett (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) (capt), Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), Michael Kearney (Clontarf/Leinster), Iain Henderson (Queen’s University/Ulster), Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Dominic Gallagher (Dublin University/Ulster), Eoin McKeon (Galwegians/Connacht).
Replacements: David Doyle (UCD/Leinster), Conor Carey (Ballymena/Ulster), Daniel Qualter (Buccaneers/Connacht), Shane Buckley (Garryowen/Munster), Peter du Toit (UCD/Leinster), James McKinney (Queen’s University/Ulster), JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians/Munster).
ENGLAND U-20: Ben Ransom (Saracens); Andy Short (Worcester Warriors), Elliot Daly (London Wasps), Ryan Mills (Gloucester), Jonathan Joseph (London Irish); George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Chris Cook (Bath); Mako Vunipola (Bristol), Mike Haywood (Northampton Saints), Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Charlie Matthews (Harlequins), Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors), Matt Everard (Leicester Tigers), Alex Gray (Newcastle Falcons) (capt).
Replacements: Rob Buchanan (Harlequins), Ryan Bower (Leicester Tigers), Sam Twomey (Harlequins), Sam Jones (London Wasps), Dan Robson (Gloucester), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Marland Yarde (London Irish).
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina), Joao Mourinha (Portugal)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland U-20s to win: 4/1; Draw: 25/1; England U-20s to win: 1/7
Pre-Match Quotes: Mike Ruddock (Ireland U-20s) – “The players have trained very well. We have had a really good preparation with two warm-up games which we didn’t have before last year’s tournament, so we are really positive about our build-up.
“We are going into the tournament in a very positive frame of mind and we know that England are favourites for this game.
“We realise that they are the Under-20 Grand Slam champions and we respect that, however this will be a different Ireland team to the one that they played in the Six Nations with as many as 11 changes to the starting team.
“We have prepared well with senior Ireland coaches, Les Kiss and Gert Smal, helping out and we are as ready as we can ever be for a game of this magnitude.”
Alex Gray (England U-20s) – “I’d say that this is the strongest England squad I’ve played in throughout the age grades.
“Obviously a lot of us have come through together which is great – we’re all maturing into good players and while there’s still a lot more to come, we’re ready to go out there and give it a real go.
“But we’re not getting ahead of ourselves, winning the Grand Slam is one thing but the Junior World Championship is a different thing altogether. The southern Hemisphere sides are no mugs and we’ll need to be firing all cylinders to get past them.
“Things will be a little bit different when we play Ireland this time. Obviously playing them and beating them in Ireland was a big feat and not a lot of England U-20 teams have done that, so we’re high on confidence and if we turn up we can beat them.”
Pre-Match Links –
Recent Meetings –
2009: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 19 England U-20s 18, Dubarry Park
2010: RBS U-20 6 Nations: England U-20s 10 Ireland U-20s 25, Kingsholm, Gloucester RFC; IRB Junior World Championship – Pool B: England U-20s 36 Ireland U-20s 21, Estadio El Coloso del Parque, Rosario
2011: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 15 England U-20s 46, Dubarry Park