Sunday 25 September 2016

Carolan has faith in U20 squad despite Byrne blow

John Fallon

Published 01/06/2015 | 02:30

Ireland U20 coach Nigel Carolan is confident his squad has the strength in depth to cope with the loss of experienced out-half Ross Byrne ahead of their World Rugby U20 Championship campaign
Ireland U20 coach Nigel Carolan is confident his squad has the strength in depth to cope with the loss of experienced out-half Ross Byrne ahead of their World Rugby U20 Championship campaign

Ireland U20 coach Nigel Carolan is confident his squad has the strength in depth to cope with the loss of experienced out-half Ross Byrne ahead of their World Rugby U20 Championship campaign.

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Byrne, who played in last year's tournament in New Zealand and started all five games in this year's Six Nations, has had to pull out with a back injury.

"It is a big blow to Ross and to the squad," said Carolan. "He was a key player in the Six Nations and at last year's World Cup. But it is the nature of the sport that injuries happen and you just have to deal with them."

He has drafted in Cork Con's Tomas Quinlan, who is one of two uncapped players in the 28-man squad - former Blackrock College captain and scrum-half Charlie Rock is the other - selected for the tournament which begins tomorrow in Parma against Argentina.

Joey Carbery of UCD and Lansdowne's Fergal Cleary are the front-runners to take over from Byrne at out-half.

Ireland will also play Scotland and New Zealand in the pool games and will have two more matches in the play-off stages as they try to surpass last year's fourth-place finish.

Carolan said Byrne would not have started all five games as he will be rotating players to ensure they meet the demands of playing so many matches in just 19 days.

"It is a demanding schedule, so using all resources is key. We have a good squad and have good options," added Carolan.

Quinlan was in the squad for a recent trip to play France in a warm-up game and is familiar with the set-up.

"We track players on an ongoing basis and have a number of players on standby at home in case we need them.

"Four of them featured in the Six Nations - it is just impossible to accommodate them all," said the Irish coach.

Ireland arrived in Italy on Thursday to get ready for the tournament and are based in Brescia, near Milan.

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