Saturday 3 December 2016

Ireland U-20s aiming to bounce back

Published 11/02/2016 | 02:30

Ireland U20's head coach Nigel Carolan. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Ireland U20's head coach Nigel Carolan. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile

After last week's humbling at the hands of Wales, Ireland U-20s coach Nigel Carolan has resisted the temptation to shuffle his pack for a daunting trip to Narbonne to take on France tomorrow.

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Ireland were outplayed by Wales in Donnybrook but Carolan saw enough in the performance to make just three changes to his line-up.

Jack Power and Will Connors both miss out with respective shoulder injuries while Connacht's Conor Kenny replaces his provincial team-mate Conan O'Donnell who drops to the bench.

Hugo Keenan shifts from the wing to full-back to allow Conor O'Brien to come on to the wing while Dan Walsh replaces Connors. Kelvin Brown scored a try and impressed in place of Connors against Wales last time out and Peter Malone, Carolan's assistant coach, explained the thinking behind leaving the Munster back-row on the bench.

"You don't really carry a seven on the bench because he doesn't cover across the back-row," Malone said. "Dan is a pure seven. He has played very well for Munster U-20s in September and played very well for Cork Con U-20s and senior team. He did well in the trials. It is the nature of the game. Kelvin (Brown) had a super game, made a big impact, but we probably see him more as a six or an eight."

For loosehead prop Andrew Porter, who weighs in at 119kg and is breaking all sorts of records in the Leinster gym, it's a chance to improve on last week's performance. Squatting 280kg is his current best and he maintained that "it is all part of the game". "I think it's an ever-changing game," Porter said. "Being physically ready for every game is a huge part of it. They've (France) always been a big pack."

Ireland U20s (v France) - H Keenan; M Byrne, S Daly, J O'Brien, C O'Brien; J McPhillips, J Poland; A Porter, A McBurney, C Kenny; P Claffey, J Ryan (c); C Gallagher, D Walsh*, M Deegan. Reps: S Fenton, J Bollard, C O'Donnell, S O'Connor, K Brown, S Keirns, B Connon, T Kennedy*. (*Uncapped at this level)

Irish Independent

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