The Ireland Under 20 team, to face Wales Under 20’s on Friday night at Parc-y-Scarlets, KO 19:10, has been announced.
Head coach Mike Ruddock welcomes back centre Luke Marshall and winger Craig Gilroy from Magners League duty for Ulster.
Fresh from scoring his first senior try for Ulster, Marshall will reform his centre partnership with Alex Kelly and Gilroy, Ulster’s top try scorer in the league, returns on the right wing.
They are the only two changes to the team that defeated Scotland 15-0 last time out. JJ Hanrahan and Tiernan O’Halloran make way and take up spots on the replacements bench.
Looking forward to building on that win in Inverness, Ruddock said:
We saw a big improvement, particularly in terms of our line speed in defence and in the collision which we dominated a lot more than we did against France.
That gives us some confidence going to Wales. It will be extremely tough against the Welsh side as they seem to be playing with great confidence.
We need to ensure our defence is spot on and take our chances when they come along.
While Marshall and Gilroy will add a clinical edge in the backs it’s really up front where the Irish youngsters have been found wanting with the front five struggling against the heavyweight French.
Leinster duo Marin Moore, at prop, and the impressive Michael Kearney in second row helped shore up the lightweight front five against Scotland and it’ll be interesting to see how they perform against the more robust Welsh.
The Irish side will be targeting this game as a must win to set up a Triple Crown tilt at England the following weekend in Athlone and I think that the Irish lads will have enough to see them clear in what should be a highly entertaining match.
The game will be broadcast live on RTÉ Two and on ScrumV, BBC2 Wales.
IRELAND: Michael Sherlock (Leinster), Craig Gilroy (Ulster), Alex Kelly (Leinster), Luke Marshall (Ulster), Andrew Boyle (Leinster), Patrick Jackson (Ulster), Blane McIlroy (Ulster), James Tracy (Leinster), Niall Annett (Ulster) (C), Martin Moore (Leinster), Michael Kearney (Leinster), Daniel Qualter (Connacht), Shane Buckley (Munster), Aaron Conneely (Connacht), Jordi Murphy (Leinster). Replacements: David Doyle (Leinster), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Cathal O’Flaherty (Munster), Mark Dolan (Connacht), JJ Hanrahan (Munster), Tiernan O’Halloran (Connacht)