McBurney focusing on lessons of last year
Published 04/02/2016 | 02:30
Adam McBurney is one of only three players from last year's U-20s squad to be included in the starting XV to play Wales in the Six Nations opener tomorrow night and the hooker knows that there is an extra responsibility on his shoulders.
McBurney will make up the front-row alongside Andrew Porter and Conan O'Donnell, both of whom also featured for Nigel Carolan's youngsters last year and he believes that the trio have learned a lot of lessons since then.
"Definitely, there is a responsibility there," McBurney admitted.
"I have that experience from last year but this year we are in a place where it's not just those lads but lads playing with the 'A's and there are a couple of senior caps floating about whereas last year we didn't have as much as that.
"I learned how difficult it was to go through the whole Six Nations phase. It is a lot different from just playing your average week in and week out club game. You aren't just training twice a week. This is the Six Nations, you are in camp all week.
"You are away from home and the games are a lot more sore on your body and you have to take care or your body and your recovery.
"Just playing against different teams as well and seeing what they are like.
"The size of some of them as well, like France and England who are massive. They have pace on top of that as well.
"As the weeks go on you adapt to that a bit better but we ran out of fuel last year after the England game."
Jacob Stockdale, the fourth player with previous experience at this level who is part of Carolan's squad, isn't included tomorrow as he will instead be involved with Ulster in their Pro12 cash against Dragons.
Stockdale is a significant loss for a squad already short of experience but there are plenty of players like Shane Daly, Jimmy O'Brien, James Ryan and Max Deegan for supporters to be keeping a close eye on.
McBurney, who is currently in his second year of the Ulster sub-academy, is hoping to build on last year's experience and use the upcoming Six Nations as a springboard to sealing a professional contract further down the line. "I'm sure Les (Kiss) will definitely tune into the games," he said. "He tunes into all the AIL games (playing for Ballymena) up in Ulster so I'm sure he'll get the videos sent back to him if he doesn't get down to a couple of them.
"That's something to aim for to, the likes of Les looking on. There is a lot of pressure but you have to deal with it and hopefully perform with that pressure on your shoulders."
It's a case of opportunity knocks for Ireland's next generation and with a largely inexperienced squad, they face a tough opening test against Wales in Donnybrook.
Ireland U-20s squad (v Wales) - J Power*; M Byrne*, S Daly*, J O'Brien*, H Keenan*; J McPhillips*, J Poland*; A Porter, A McBurney, C O'Donnell; P Claffey*, J Ryan (capt)*; C Gallagher*, W Connors*, M Deegan*. Reps: S Fenton*, J Bollard*, C Kenny*, S O'Connor*, K Brown*, S Keirns*, B Connon*, C O'Brien*. (* Denotes uncapped at this level)