Ireland and Wales have named their sides for Friday night’s key U20 6 Nations clash.
The two come in with equal records, Wales having beaten Scotland and lost to England, while Ireland lost to France and then beat Italy last time out, though they were given an almighty fright by the Italians.
Taking place in Dublin’s Donnybrook Stadium, Ireland Head Coach Noel McNamara has made three changes to the side that secured that win over Italy last time out,
Ronan Kelleher comes back in to the front row to join Jordan Guggan and Jack Aungier, he is the only change in the pack, with Cormac Daly and Jack Dunner again in the second row and Sean Masterson, Matthew Agnew, and Jack O’Sullivan once more in the back row.
Ulster’s Jonny Stewart comes back in to the team at scrum half where he joins outside half Harry Bryne.
The final change sees James Hume come into the centres for his debut alongside Angus Curtis, a change that moves skipper Tommy O’Brien from the centre to the wing, where James McCarthy and Michael Silvestre will complete the back row.
Wales Head Coach Jason Strange meanwhile has made a number of changes to his side. Max Llewellyn comes in at inside centre, where he joins Callum Carson. Outside them tommy Rogers also makes his first start in the tournament, he is joined in he back three by the returning Joe Goodchild and Cai Evans, who moves back from fly half to full back.
That change sees Ben Jones return at outside half, with Harri Morgan again at scum half, one of just three players in the backline to keep a strating berth following the defeat to England, Carson and Evans being the others.
There are just three players retained in the back too. Leicester Tigers’ Tommy Reffell stays at blindside and again captains the side, with Taine Basham again at number 8. Former Sedbergh star James Botham comes into the side at openside for his first appearance since the World Rugby U20 Championship.
There is an all new second row as Owen Lloyd comes in for his first appearance and Max Williams returns following an injury. Iestyn Harris retains his hooking berth, while Josh Reynolds makes his first start at loosehead and Rhys Henry comes in at tighthead.
There could also be debuts for Kemsley Mathias and Dafydd Smith from the bench should Strange bring them on.
Speaking ahead of the game, Ireland Head Coach Noel McNamara said:
“We are progressing well as a team and we have been building week on week. We had a good hit out against the senior squad in Athlone last week and the players have gone well in training since the Italy game.”
Wales bring a new challenge and it is one that the players are very much looking forward to. We took our foot off the pedal in the second half against Italy, so we’ll be looking for a more sustained performance this Friday.”
Wales’ Jason Strange, meanwhile, said:
“We started the tournament very positively with a good win against Scotland, and while the result was firmly in England’s favour in our last outing, we saw enough to be happy about going forward, there’s a very good feeling in the camp, and with players coming in and out of regional rugby, we’ve been able to rotate the squad quite a lot.”
“On Friday night we will have capped 24 new players, which is in keeping with our aim to give opportunities for players to stake a claim leading into this year’s World Rugby U20 Championship.”
Ireland U20 v Wales U20 – Friday 23 February, 7.15pm, Donnybrook (live on RTE)
15 Michael Silvester (Dublin University FC/Leinster), 14 Tommy O’Brien (UCD RFC/Leinster, captain), 13 James Hume (Banbridge RFC/Ulster), 12 Angus Curtis (Queen’s University RFC/Ulster), 11 James McCarthy (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster), 10 Harry Byrne (UCD RFC/Leinster), 9 Jonny Stewart (Queen’s University RFC/Ulster), 1 Jordan Duggan (Naas RFC/Leinster), 2 Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne FC/ Leinster), 3 Jack Aungier (St. Mary’s College RFC/Leinster), 4 Cormac Daly (Clontarf FC/Leinster), 5 Jack Dunne (Dublin University FC/Leinster), 6 Sean Masterson (Corinthians RFC/Connacht), 7 Matthew Agnew (Ballymena RFC/Ulster), 8 Jack O’Sullivan (UCC RFC/Munster).
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron (Garryowen FC/Munster), 17 James French (UCC RFC/Munster), 18 Tom O’Toole (Banbridge RFC/Ulster), 19 Charlie Ryan (UCD RFC/Leinster), 20 Ronan Foley (UCD RFC/Leinster), 21 Hugh O’Sullivan (Clontarf FC/Leinster), 22 Conor Dean (St.Mary’s College RFC/Leinster), 23 Angus Kernohan (Ballymena RFC/Ulster).
15 Cai Evans (Ospreys), 14 Joe Goodchild (Dragons), 13 Callum Carson (Ospreys), 12 Max Llewellyn (Cardiff Blues), 11 Tommy Rogers (Scarlets), 10 Ben Jones (Cardiff Blues), 9 Harri Morgan (Ospreys), 1 Josh Reynolds (Dragons), 2 Iestyn Harris (Cardiff Blues), 3 Rhys Henry (Ospreys), 4 Owen Lloyd (Cardiff Blues), 5 Max Williams (Dragons), 6 Tommy Reffell (Leicester) (c), 7 James Botham (Cardiff Blues), 8 Taine Basham (Dragons).
Replacements: 16 Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues), 17 Dewi Lake (Ospreys), 18 Kemsley Mathias (Scarlets), 19 Jack Pope (Bridgend), 20 Morgan Morris (Ospreys), 21 Dan Babos (Dragons), 22 Ben Thomas (Cardiff Blues), 23 Dafydd Smith (Cardiff Blues).