Sunday 16 June 2019

Carolan's men looking for perfect start in bid for U-20 glory in Italy

Ireland head coach Nigel Carolan knows the World Rugby U-20 Championship is a tough competition with five games in 20 games
Ireland head coach Nigel Carolan knows the World Rugby U-20 Championship is a tough competition with five games in 20 games

John Fallon

Ireland, having achieved their best ever finish last year when they were fourth in New Zealand, know that victory is vital today in Parma against Argentina if they are to entertain hopes of a similar run in the renamed World Rugby U-20 Championship.

Coach Nigel Carolan, heading into his first world championship in charge but who was part of the management at four other tournaments, said that it is a tough competition with five games in 20 games.

They will face a Scotland side on Saturday who beat them in the Six Nations and then four days later take on New Zealand when they will be seeking their first win in five matches against the Baby Blacks.

Ireland began their Six Nations campaign at a rate on knots, winning away to Italy and at home to France, but then the wheels came off against England, Wales and Scotland.

"The lads are anxious to bounce back from those defeats and their preparation for this tournament has been excellent and everyone just can't wait for it to start," said Carolan, who was impressed by Argentina recently against South Africa.


"They are relentless in defence, they just don't give up and we will earn every score off them. But that is what you expect at this level, it's a step-up."

The loss of out-half Ross Byrne to a back injury, which ended his tournament before they departed, is a blow but Carolan can still call on seven of Byrne's team-mates in his starting side today from last year.

Nick McCarthy skippers the side from scrum-half, Billy Dardis is at full-back and Ciaran Gaffney on the right wing, while another survivor Garry Ringrose will be expected to move his burgeoning career on to another level at this tournament.

Up front, the trio who experienced this tournament in New Zealand are tighthead prop Oisin Heffernan and flankers Josh Murphy and Rory Moloney.

"It is good to have that level of experience on board and the lads are anxious to bounce back from the way the Six Nations fizzled out, but we are not looking beyond Argentina," added Carolan.

He has handed the No 10 slot to Byrne's UCD and Leinster colleague Joey Carbery and Carolan believes that his four appearances off the bench in the Six Nations will stand to him.

Ireland (v Argentina) - B Dardis; C Gaffney, G Ringrose, S Arnold, S Fitzgerald; J Carbery, N McCarthy (capt); J Loughman, Z McCall, O Heffernan; D O'Connor, A Thompson; J Murphy, R Moloney, L Dow. Replacements: S McNulty, A Porter, C O'Donnell, J Dwan, N Timoney, C Rock, T Quinlan, J Stockdale.

Ireland U20 v Argentina U20,

Live, TG4/ESPN, 3.30

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