Emerging Ireland will aim to make it two wins out of two at the IRB Nations Cup on Wednesday when Dan McFarland’s much-changed team line out against Uruguay.
IRB NATIONS CUP: Wednesday, June 18
EMERGING IRELAND (1st) v URUGUAY (3rd), Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf, Bucharest, 4pm local time/2pm Irish time (live stream/TVR 2 (Romania))
Team News: Emerging Ireland head coach Dan McFarland has made ten changes in personnel and four positional switches to the side that overcame Russia 66-0 in their weather-hit opening game of the tournament last Friday.
Emerging Ireland had scored ten tries before referee Ian Davies called a halt to proceedings in the 45th minute due to a thunder storm.
The 66-0 scoreline, which included an Andrew Conway hat-trick, became the final result in line with tournament rules as the storm lasted around 30 minutes.
For the Irish side’s second outing, a new-look front row of John Ryan, Bryan Byrne and Ricky Lutton will make their first starts of the tournament together, while Billy Holland comes in to partner Michael Kearney in the second row.
Tommy O’Donnell, one of only two senior-capped players in the starting line-up, moves from openside to blindside flanker with Sean Dougall coming in to wear the number 7 jersey. They are joined by number 8 Paddy Butler to complete an all-Munster back row.
A freshened-up centre pairing sees Leinster’s Brendan Macken make his first start of the tournament alongside Eoin Griffin. JJ Hanrahan and Luke McGrath, who played together at the IRB Junior World Championship in South Africa two years ago, are the starting half-backs.
Craig Gilroy shifts to the full-back position with Johne Murphy, who captains the side, and Ulster’s Michael Allen lining out on the wings.
Tour captain Dominic Ryan was included among the replacements but in a late change, has been withdrawn due to illness with Robin Copeland replacing him as back row cover.
McFarland’s men are top of the table after their opening bonus point win. Uruguay lost their first game to hosts Romania, going down 34-16 with Romanian centre Florin Vlaicu kicking 19 points.
Meanwhile, Uruguay are meeting Emerging Ireland for the second time in the space of 12 months. At last summer’s Tbilisi Cup Ian Keatley scored two tries and kicked 12 points as the Irish side claimed a 42-33 win over ‘los Teros’.
The South Americans are using the tournament to prepare for their Repechage semi-final – essentially the last-chance saloon for the four also-rans from the Rugby World Cup qualifying regions. They are due to play Hong Kong who finished second to Japan in the Asia region.
Coached by their former international prop Pablo Lemoine, Uruguay – IRB Nations Cup participants in 2008, 2009 and 2012 – arrived in Bucharest having just competed in the CONSUR Cup where they finished as runner-up to Argentina.
Lemonie has made ten personnel changes to the side that lost to Romania last Friday, with tighthead prop Juan Echeverria and lock Cristofer Soares de Lima the only survivors in the pack.
In a rejigged back-line, Jeronimo Etcheverry and Federico Favaro will start in the back-three with Pedro Deal and Rodrigo Silva selected at outside centre and out-half respectively.
The versatile Alejo Duran swaps the number 10 jersey for the scrum half spot, taking over from the benched Guillermo Lijtenstein. Centre Joaquin Prada, who turns 23 next month, will captain the Uruguayans.
EMERGING IRELAND: Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster); Johne Murphy (Young Munster/Munster) (capt), Brendan Macken (Blackrock College/Leinster), Eoin Griffin (Galwegians/Connacht), Michael Allen (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster); JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians/Munster), Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster); John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Bryan Byrne (Clontarf/Leinster), Ricky Lutton (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Michael Kearney (Clontarf/Connacht), Billy Holland (Cork Constitution/Munster), Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster), Sean Dougall (Dolphin/Munster), Paddy Butler (Shannon/Munster).
Replacements: James Tracy (UCD/Leinster), Callum Black (Malone/Ulster), David Foley (UL Bohemians/Munster), Robin Copeland (Cardiff Blues), Paul Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster), Ian Keatley (Young Munster/Munster), Andrew Conway (Blackrock College/Munster).
URUGUAY: Jeronimo Etcheverry; Federico Favaro, Pedro Deal, Joaquin Prada (capt), Gaston Gibernau; Rodrigo Silva, Alejo Duran; Mateo Sanguinetti, Carlos Arboleya, Juan Echeverria, Cristofer Soares de Lima, Matias Beer, Agustin Alonso, Fernando Bascou, Mathias Braun.
Replacements: Nicolas Klappenbach, Oscar Duran, Franco Lamanna, Alejandro Nieto, Juan de Freitas, Alberto Roman, Guillermo Lijtenstein.
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Cristian Raduta, Gabriel Seitan (both Romania)
Pre-Match Quotes: Johne Murphy (Emerging Ireland) – “I’ve captained teams at schools level a couple of times, but this is my first professional experience of it. It’s a massive honour, something I will probably look back on at the end of my career and really cherish.
“When Dan spoke to me I was absolutely delighted and it makes it more special for me given the quality of the players that I’ll be leading out, guys that are really going to be pushing for places in the World Cup next year.
“We took our opportunities when we were given them (against Russia). We were accurate. We had one set piece after two phases and scored in the first minute and it all took off from there.
“Essentially, we’re trying to replicate exactly what the senior lads are trying to do. It’s all about learning new terminology, getting it all down and I think we did a fantastic job on that. A pre-tour get together in Ashbourne really stood to us when it came to getting our details right.
“Ireland have just completed a tour to Argentina, the Under-20s are in New Zealand and we’re here. Les Kiss is coming out here and Joe (Schmidt) is heading to Auckland to see what’s happening there. It shows he is putting in a structure so that guys can slot in and out and know the roles they have.
“In our case, a fair amount of players were involved in the accompanying tournament in Tbilisi last year and that has helped the group because it means you get to know the players around you. The guys really want to win this competition. It’s not an end of season jolly. We’re here to do a job.”
Nicholas Klappenbach (Uruguay) – “We have a fair knowledge of the way the Irish play, having played them the year before, and are well aware of the difficulty of the task ahead.
“But this is the kind of match that we need if we want to qualify for next year’s World Cup and we will do our best, no matter how difficult the opposition is.”
Emerging Ireland Nations Cup Fixtures/Results –
Friday, June 13: Emerging Ireland 66 Russia 0, Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf
Wednesday, June 18: Emerging Ireland v Uruguay, Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf, 4pm local time/2pm Irish time
Sunday, June 22: Romania v Emerging Ireland, Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf, 7pm local time/5pm Irish time
Emerging Ireland v Uruguay Previous Meeting –
2013: IRB Tbilisi Cup: Uruguay 33 Emerging Ireland 42, Avchala Stadium, Tbilisi