Skipper Ryan gunning for Welsh grand slam winners in World U-20 opener
Published 07/06/2016 | 02:30
Ireland captain James Ryan insists that what happened in the Six Nations will have little bearing on this evening's clash with Wales in the opening game of the World U-20 Championship in Manchester.
Wales defeated Ireland 35-24 in Donnybrook on the opening weekend of the Six Nations before going on to complete a grand slam.
But Ryan said Ireland would also take heart from the way they recovered from losses to Wales and France to defeat England away from home and then record victories over Italy and Scotland at Donnybrook.
"They had a brilliant Six Nations. They are grand slam champions, they are a top side. We finished the Six Nations with three wins in a row so we have got momentum," said Ryan.
"But the Six Nations is history and this a World Championship and it's a bigger and better stage and we are just looking forward to getting going."
Lansdowne second-row Ryan has shaken off a calf injury which made him doubtful for this opening match at the Manchester City Academy Stadium beside the Etihad Stadium.
"No, no issue, it was just a precaution and I'm all good. We are all looking forward to the start of the competition," he said.
Ireland and Wales have met in this competition over the past two summers, with the Irish winning 35-21 in New Zealand two years ago, while the Welsh were 22-12 victors in Parma 12 months ago.
And it is not just on the field that they keep encountering each other - both squads are based in the Park Inn Radisson in the city centre.
"It's a bit of a face-off in the hotel but both teams are just anxious to get going now," added Ryan.
Munster's promising out-half Bill Johnston has recovered from the shoulder injury which has delayed his debut at this level and a lot will depend on the Clonmel native, who will be underage again next season.
The only other debutant in the starting 15 will be St Mary's flanker David Aspil.
Front-rows Vincent O'Brien and Georgian-born Vakh Abdaladaze will also make their U-20 debuts if they come off the bench.
It's a tough pool for Ireland who will play world champions New Zealand on Saturday and then face next year's hosts Georgia next week.
"Each game is very tough. It's such short windows between these internationals as well. If we look too far ahead there's a danger. Wales first up, we haven't even looked at New Zealand, so that's the one we are looking at," noted Ryan.
Ireland have been in Manchester since Thursday and yesterday got their first glimpse of the City Academy Stadium where they will play all three pool games. It was like looking at how the other side live.
It's an astonishing place, the 7,000-capacity stadium just one of many facilities expensively assembled to cater for the millionaire footballers.
Irish coach Nigel Carolan believes his young charges will be inspired by the setting.
"As an academy stadium, it's spectacular. It's a great setting and very fitting for this occasion," he said.
"But now that we are here it gives the lads that fine-tuning that it's finally here and we are looking forward to kicking off against Wales."
Ireland - J Stockdale (Belfast Harlequins); M Byrne (Terenure), S Daly (Cork Con), C O'Brien (Clontarf), H Keenan (UCD); B Johnston (Garryowen), S Kerins (Sligo); A Porter (UCD), A McBurney (Ballymena), C Kenny (Buccaneers); C Gallagher (Sligo), J Ryan (Lansdowne); G Jones (UCD), D Aspil (St Mary's RFC), M Deegan (Lansdowne). Reps: V O'Brien (Cork Con), V Abdaladze (Clontarf), B Betts (Young Munster), S O'Connor (Cashel), K Brown (Shannon), N Saunders (Epsom College), J McPhillips (Queen's University), J O'Brien (UCD).