Ireland U-20 Coach Mike Ruddock has made several changes to the squad that played against France U-20s in Dubarry Park for the game against Scotland U-20s on Friday night.
Just like in the Men’s and the Women’s sides it appears that the Ulster contingent is dwindling. However in the case of the Under 20’s we can say that it’s due to more important business elsewhere for the likes of Craig Gilroy and Luke Marshall!
Patrick Jackson drops down a notch this week after his impressive Ulster debut against Scarlets and he’ll be partnered by Ballymena’s Blane McIlroy. It’s going to be some scramble for scrum-half berth in a couple of years when/if Pienaar heads for pastures new.
The hugely impressive Niall Annett captain’s the squad yet again and the young Quins’ man is certainly well thought off in the Ireland camp, being virtually unchallenged for his position and the Captaincy throughout the age grades. I’d just like to see him fill out a bit more as he has wonderful skills and looks rock solid with the darts.
And fill out is something that Queen’s Iain Henderson is going to need to do if he is going to breakthrough in the highly competitive world of the second row. Mind you, he has enough pace and a great engine so we may see him moving back a row after this summer U20’s World Cup.
Ireland will certainly be looking to improve their 4th place standing in the Six Nations and will be disappointed if they are not in the mix with the top two come the end of March. The heavy defeat by France was an obvious setback but shouldn’t have a knock on effect given the number of players out for provincial duty on that occasion.
Speaking on the Scotland fixture Ireland U20 Coach Mike Ruddock said;
We are looking forward to travelling to Inverness and to playing Scotland.
We have a panel determined to do better. We felt we have not been as effective in our defense as we would have hoped and have asked players to look at that and for a positive reaction. If we can achieve that we will see an improvement.Mike Ruddock, Ireland U20 Coach.
IRELAND U20: Michael Sherlock, Tiernan O’Halloran, Alex Kelly, JJ Hanrahan, Andrew Boyle, Patrick Jackson, Blane McIlroy, Niall Annett (C), Martin Moore, Michael Kearney, Daniel Qualter, Shane Buckley, Aaron Conneely, Jordi Murphy. Replacements: David Doyle, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Cathal O’Flaherty, Mark Dolan, Gareth Quinn McDonogh, Colm O’Shea.
Ireland Under-20 RBS 6 Nations Fixtures –
- Fri 25th Feb 19:30 Scotland U20 v Ireland U20 Tulloch Stadium, Inverness
- Fri 11th Mar 19:10 Wales U20 v Ireland U20 Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
- Fri 18th Mar 19:45 Ireland U20 v England U20 Dubarry Park, Athlone