The Ireland U20 team has been named for their final fixture of the RBS 6 Nations Championship where they take on England at Adams Park on Friday.
Loosehead prop Des Merrey gets his first start of the Championship, having been used as a replacement in each of the previous four games.
Ulster’s Kyle McCall moves to the tighthead side of the scrum with Niall Scannell named at hooker having missed the previous game through injury.
Ireland are two points clear of England at the top of the table thanks to their four wins to date. Friday’s game, to decide the Championship, will be broadcast live from Adams Park on Sky Sports 2/HD2.
IRELAND U20: Shane Layden, Conor Finn, Chris Farrell, JJ Hanrahan, Foster Horan, Patrick Jackson, Luke McGrath, Des Merrey, Niall Scannell, Kyle McCall, Iain Henderson, Daniel Qualter, Conor Gilsenan, Aaron Conneely, Jack Conan. Replacements: James Rael, Peter Reilly, Jake Cawley, Tadhg Beirne, Jordan Coghlan, Kieron Marmion, Cathal Marsh, Stuart Olding.
Haven’t seen much of the U20’s this season as their matches have been clashing with the corresponding Women’s fixtures but I’m looking forward to watching this one on Friday night.
There’s been much gurning and gnashing of teeth from the keyboard warriors on the message boards regarding disappointing performances throughout Ireland’s unbeaten run but it would be my guess that this is down more to overhyped expectation than anything else.
Having watched International U20’s, PRO12 and Heineken Cup matches at pitch side the speed and power of the U20’s fits in somewhere between the two Professional leagues. Sure the precision is not always there but these are real meaty contests and they don’t always come across as such on the old goggle box!
Won’t be making a prediction for this one, for as I say I’ve only had a cursory glance at the series so far, but I will be looking to see how Paddy Jackson and Iain Henderson are controlling the games now they are two of the more experienced heads, is all the hype round JJ Hanrahan justified and how have Chris Farrell and McCall progressed?
I also hope I get a look at Stuart Olding after hearing great things about him all season, but most of all I hope to see an Ireland U20 Championship win.