The Ireland Under-20s will bid to make history at the IRB Junior World Championship later today, as a first ever win over New Zealand would secure them top spot in Pool B and a prized semi-final place.
2013 IRB JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: POOL B: Thursday, June 13
NEW ZEALAND U-20s v IRELAND U-20s, Stade de la Rabine, Vannes, 6.45pm local time/5.45pm Irish time (live TG4/Sky Sports 3 red button/Sky Sports Xtra)
Team News: The Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PwC, to play New Zealand in a top of the table Pool B clash at the IRB Junior World Championship on Thursday has been named.
Head coach Mike Ruddock has made eight changes in personnel to the Ireland side that overcame their Fijian counterparts 46-3 in their last outing.
Peter Dooley and George McGuigan return to the front row with the Byrne twins dropping back to the replacements bench, while in the back row Josh van der Flier comes in at openside flanker with Jack O’Donoghue the player to make way.
Conor Joyce, who captained the team against Fiji, reverts to the number 8 berth and Daniel Leavy, one of the try scorers last Sunday, completes a strong back row unit with John Donnan taking over from Sean McCarthy in the second row.
There are four changes in the back-line which sees the return of Adam Byrne to the right wing and captain Luke McGrath to scrum half.
With Tom Daly’s tournament ended by a hand injury and Mark Roche listed among the replacements, Thomas Farrell and Rory Scannell make their returns to the starting line-up as the chosen centre pairing.
Speaking from the team base ahead of the TG4-televised fixture, Ruddock said: “This is a big game for both sides, the winner of this will have a guaranteed place in the semi-finals.
“We have a huge respect for New Zealand rugby and particularly their record at this age-grade level, but once the whistle goes on Thursday we will be as competitive as we can be to progress to the next round.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand Under-20 boss Chris Boyd has made six changes to the team that last Sunday’s 14-10 victory over Australia.
In the forwards Boyd Wiggins will get his first start of the tournament at tighthead prop with Sione Mafileo dropping back to the replacements bench.
There is one further change in the tight five with Christopher Vui lining out in the second row. Joseph Edwards played on the blindside flank against Australia and he will move to number 8, making way for Jordan Manihera to wear the number 6 jersey.
There are three further changes in the backs – Tayler Adams will start at scrum half, two-try hero from the opening match against Fiji, Michael Collins, comes back in at inside centre and the final change in the back-line is Lolagi Visinia who lines up in the right wing.
Influential Wellington flanker Ardie Savea, who played in the opening two pool games, will again lead the Baby Blacks team.
NEW ZEALAND U-20: Joseph Webber (Waikato); Lolagi Visinia (Auckland), Jason Emery (Manawatu), Michael Collins (Otago), Fa’asiu Fuatai (Otago); Simon Hickey (Auckland); Tayler Adams (Southland); Donald Brighouse (Wellington), Epalahame Faiva (Waikato), Boyd Wiggins (North Harbour), Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland), Christopher Vui (Auckland), Jordan Manihera (North Harbour), Ardie Savea (Wellington) (capt), Joseph Edwards (Auckland).
Replacements: Kalafi Pongi (Counties Manukau), Nick Grogan (Manawatu), Scott Scrafton (Auckland), Hadleigh May (Otago), Teihorangi Walden (Otago), Sheridan Rangihuna (Hawke’s Bay), Jade Te Rure (Manawatu), Sione Mafileo (North Harbour).
IRELAND U-20: Darragh Leader (Galwegians/Connacht); Adam Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Thomas Farrell (Lansdowne/Leinster), Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster), Rory Scholes (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster); Steve Crosbie (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) (capt); Peter Dooley (Lansdowne/Leinster), George McGuigan (Newcastle Falcons/Exile), Christopher Taylor (Malone/Ulster), Gavin Thornbury (UCD/Leinster), John Donnan (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Daniel Leavy (UCD/Leinster), Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster), Conor Joyce (Malone/Ulster).
Replacements: Edward Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Bryan Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Adam Boland (Lansdowne/Connacht), Peadar Timmins (UCD/Leinster), Ryan Murphy (Dolphin/Munster), David Shanahan (Clontarf/Leinster), Mark Roche (Lansdowne/Connacht), Darren Sweetnam (UCC/Munster).
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Shuhei Kubo (Japan), Christophe Mallet (France)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): New Zealand U-20s to win: 1/22; Draw: 40/1; Ireland U-20s to win: 17/2
Pre-Match Quotes: Mike Ruddock (Ireland U-20s) – “We have got to do everything right. We’ll be very competitive with our set piece, we have to make sure to win our own ball at scrum and lineout, the breakdown is going to be a massive area.
“We focused very much on defence against Australia, on our set piece against Fiji and the breakdown will be the big area against New Zealand.
“If we let the New Zealand loose forwards dictate the breakdown and dominate that area they’ll have a lot more ball and a lot more opportunities, so we’ll have to work hard on that.”
Chris Boyd (New Zealand U-20s) – “The difference between the sides is not very much, we have different styles of play but it will probably come down to the small detail.
“But at the end of the day the source of the ball – scrum, lineout and tackle area – that’s probably where the game will be most contested.”
Pre-Match Links –
Tournament Profiles –
Seeding for 2013 JWC: Second
Best finish: Champions (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
Worst finish: Runners-up (2012)
JWC match record: Played 25 / Won 23 / Lost 2
JWC points/tries scored: 1141 / 156
JWC graduates: 9
Most capped JWC graduate: Sam Whitelock (39 matches)
Did you know? – Three members of New Zealand’s 2011 Rugby World Cup-winning side had cut their teeth on the JWC stage in Sam Whitelock, 2009 captain Aaron Cruden and all-time joint top try scorer Zac Guildford.
Head coach: Chris Boyd
Captain: Ardie Savea
One to watch: Ardie Savea
Highly regarded by All Blacks Sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietjens, Savea is expected to follow his brother Julian into the All Blacks squad in the not too distant future and coach Steve Hansen labelled his Super Rugby debut earlier this year as ‘pretty special’.
A dynamic flanker with quick feet and great acceleration, if he makes anywhere near the impact his older brother had three years ago – top try scorer and IRB Junior Player of the Year in 2010 – then New Zealand could reclaim the title they won from 2008 to 2011.
Seeding for 2013 JWC: Fifth
Best finish: Fifth (2012)
Worst finish: Ninth (2008, 2010)
JWC match record: Played 25 / Won 12 / Lost 13
JWC points/tries scored: 591 / 61
JWC graduates: 10
Most -capped JWC graduate: Conor Murray (19 matches)
Did you know? – In 2010, Ireland Under-20 captain Rhys Ruddock became the only player to be called away from a Junior World Championship to join up with the Ireland senior squad. He duly made his debut against the Wallabies.
Head coach: Mike Ruddock
Captain: Luke McGrath
One to watch: Tom Daly
England fans will not forget his name after he held his nerve to kick a late match-winning conversion against the defending champions in the Six Nations earlier this year.
A powerful – and tall at 6ft 4in – centre, Daly is a constant threat to opposing defences and his partnership in the middle, with either Thomas Farrell, Rory Scannell or Mark Roche, could be the catalyst for the back-line to spark into life and set them on the road to causing another upset