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Ruddock rings in changes

Captain Luke McGrath will have to take a back seat to his understudy David Shanahan as Ireland Under 20s coach Mike Ruddock makes 11 changes to his side for a guaranteed super-physical contest with Fiji at Vannes tomorrow evening.

In truth, Ireland should have beaten Australia by more than the final 19-15 scoreline on day one, though you wouldn't know it from the jubilant celebration of the players.

"Beating Australia any day is pretty nice. But, there is definitely a lot of room for improvement," reflected McGrath. "We now have momentum. There will be five games, four to go. There is still everything to play for. I expect Fiji to be another tough examination for us."

Favourites New Zealand smashed the Fijians 59-6 in Vannes on Wednesday. This can be discarded on the basis that the losers lost two players to red cards and three to the bin in the first-half.

Once the Baby Blacks got into a rhythm, they exposed enough flaws in the Fiji defensive system to provide Ireland coach Mike Ruddock with a solid template for victory. The set-piece will be a friend to the Irish. It was there that they controlled Australia on day one with a dominant scrum and an athletic lineout.

The seven new forwards should not unduly weaken the pack given the return from season-long injury of prop Edward Byrne and flanker Dan Leavy beside captain-for-the-night Conor Joyce.

Ireland: D Leader (Connacht); D Sweetnam (Munster), M Roche (Connacht), T Daly (Leinster), R Scholes (Ulster); S Crosbie, D Shanahan; E Byrne, B Byrne (all Leinster), C Taylor (Ulster), G Thornbury (Leinster), S McCarthy (Munster), C Joyce (Ulster, capt), D Leavy (Leinster), J O'Donoghue (Munster).

3IRELAND U20 v FIJI U20, TOMORROW, TG4, ko 5.45


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