The teams have been announced for Ireland U20’s opening match, against Italy U20’s, in the 2017 World Rugby U20 Championship which kicks off in Georgia tomorrow afternoon. KO12:30 UK/IRE.
Ireland U20 came away with a one-point win in the U20 Six Nations but it was a bit of a steal with the Italian pack having the better of their Irish counterparts. There are 12 Italian and 11 Irish players from that match in these squads so Ireland should expect another working over up front and hope their backs are sharp enough to steal a few points.
Last time round Ireland had Ulster’s Johnny McPhillip at out half and he did well to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Unfortunately, with McPhillips and other key players Bill Johnston, Jordan Larmour, Tommy O’Brien and Tadgh McElroy missing, for a variety of reasons, it will be a tough opener for Ireland with uncapped players Conor Dean and Diarmuid Barron starting in the key positions of out half and hooker respectively.
The good news from our point of view is that all four Ulster players are in the squad. Queen’s players Jonny Stewart starts at scrum half, and Marcus Rea gets an early chance to stake a claim in a competitive back row with a start at blindside.
Having recovered from a shoulder injury Quins Peter Cooper starts from the bench as tighthead replacement and Queen’s Angus Curtis benches as outhalf/center replacement. We expect all players to get a run out in what should be a physical game.
In fact, five games in 18 days make this an attritional tournament full stop and it’s something of a worry that Ireland have had to dig deep into the U19’s to pull a squad together but it’s also a fantastic opportunity for these youngsters to make a name for themselves against the best of their peers.
The FRU Predicts. Key players missing and a new management team for Ireland U20’s means this is a difficult game to forecast but we’ll start positively and go for a win for our boys, but it should be close.
|IRELAND U20||ITALY U20|
|Jack Kelly||15||Massimo Cioffi|
|Colm Hogan||14||Andrea De Masi|
|Gavin Mullin||13||Dario Schiabel|
|Ciaran Frawley||12||Marco Zanon|
|Calvin Nash||11||Giovanni D’Onofrio|
|Conor Dean*||10||Antonio Rizzi|
|Jonny Stewart||9||Charly Trussardi|
|Joey Conway||1||Danilo Fischetti|
|Diarmuid Barron *||2||Massimo Ceciliani|
|Charlie Connolly||3||Mark Riccioni|
|Fineen Wycherley||4||Niccolo Cannone|
|Oisin Dowling||5||Edoardo Iachizzi|
|Marcus Rea||6||Jacopo Bianchi|
|Paul Boyle||7||Lorenzo Masselli|
|Gavin Coombes||8||Giovanni Licata|
|Ronan Kelleher||16||Alberto Rollero|
|Greg McGrath||17||Daniele Rimpelli|
|Peter Cooper||18||Dante Gavrilita|
|Jack Regan||19||Lodovico Manni|
|Sean Masterson||20||Michele Lamaro|
|Jack Stafford||21||Matteo Panunzi|
|Angus Curtis*||22||Filippo Di Marco|
|Alan Tynan *||23||Andrea Bronzini|