Sunday 22 October 2017

McGrath backs Ireland to cause another shock in U-20s opener

John Fallon in Vannes

Ireland U-20 captain Luke McGrath is confident his side can upset Australia in their first ever meeting with the Wallabies at this level in the opening game of the Junior World Championships.

The Aussies are the last of the major rugby nations that Ireland have yet to play as this tournament enters its sixth year and McGrath believes they can repeat their opening-day heroics of 2012, when they beat hosts South Africa.

McGrath and his UCD and Leinster colleague Josh van der Flier are the only players to have experience of this tournament.

The third member of last year's squad who was eligible is Ulster's Stuart Olding, who was called into the senior squad for the trip to the USA and Canada.

SETTLED

McGrath, capped 16 times at U-20 level, said that the team had settled in well at their base in Vannes, and can't wait for tomorrow's opening clash against Australia at Stade de la Rabine in the Brittany port.

New Zealand and Fiji, who meet in the second game tomorrow night and who are in the same pool as Ireland, are also based in Vannes.

McGrath said that meeting his fellow captains at the launch in Nantes on Sunday really put the tournament into context.

"It is a massive opportunity to play against southern hemisphere sides. We are really looking forward to it. The Six Nations was massive preparation for us and we have worked hard since then," he said.

"Everyone just wants to get out there and play. We have been saying that the first match is the most important, it can give you confidence and settle you into the tournament. It is just so important to start well.

"The weather is great, not too hot and not too cold, and we are just looking forward to getting started," added the former St Michael's College captain.

Irish Independent

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