Monday 21 October 2019

Charlie Ryan ready to lead by example as Ireland get World Cup underway


Ireland U-20 captain Charlie Ryan. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Ireland U-20 captain Charlie Ryan. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

When Ireland's U-20s beat England in their Six Nations opener earlier this year it was the start of what proved to be a special journey.

Four months on, the Grand Slam champions find themselves in a similar scenario today as they look for a victory to get their World Cup campaign off to an ideal start.

England will be gunning for revenge, make no mistake about it, and despite the fact that Ireland are without several key players, they arrived in Argentina full of confidence on the back of what they have already achieved.

The injury setbacks mean that Noel McNamara has to rejig his team, with Jake Flannery switching from full-back to out-half.

Flannery featured in the No 10 jersey regularly for Shannon this season, but up until Harry Byrne's injury, McNamara has deployed him as a full-back.

There is pressure on Flannery's young shoulders to run the game-plan, but he will be helped out by the likes of captain Charlie Ryan, who has a new second-row partner in Ryan Baird. Ulster trio Stewart Moore, Iwan Hughes and Azur Allison also come into the side for their first caps at this level.

"To be honest, with this group I've learned I really don't have to do too much as a captain - the lads lead themselves," Ryan said ahead of skippering his country at the World Cup.

"There are so many leaders in the team like Craig (Casey) and Dylan (Tierney-Martin), the team looks after itself on that front.

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"All I've learned is really not to do too much as captain, just let the lads do what they do and not interfere too much in that.

"That's what I've been doing. It's worked up until now thankfully and we'll look to make it work in the tournament."

England are a big, powerful outfit and will look to take the game to Ireland up front.

The pack led by Ryan will relish that, however, and if the scrum is as solid as it was throughout the Six Nations, it will give Ireland every chance of getting off to a flyer.

"We're going to obviously do the prep we need to do on other teams, but our main focus is ourselves," Ryan insisted.

"Not much is going to change, we're going to focus on our game and make sure we get our game right. We're confident that will get us on the right side of results.

"We're all really looking forward to having a really successful World Cup, that's all we're focused on.

"The Six Nations is completely parked. We've taken confidence from it, but we completely parked it weeks ago.

"There's been no talk about the Grand Slam. We're not wasting time thinking about it."

Verdict: Ireland.

Ireland U-20s - I Hughes; A Kernohan, L Turner, S Moore, J Wren; J Flannery, C Casey; J Wycherley, D Tierney-Martin, T Clarkson; C Ryan (capt), R Baird; D McCann, J Hodnett, A Allison. Reps: M Milne, D Adamson, K McKee, C Ward, T Ahern, N Murray, R Watters, C Booth, C Reilly, C Foley, B Healy, S French, R Russell.

England U-20s - T de Glanville; O Sleightholme, F Dingwall, C Redpath, T Seabrook; M Vunipola, O Fox; O Adkins, N Dolly, J Heyes; J Kpoku, A Coles; T Hill, A Hinkley, T Willis. Reps: A Barbeary, K Owen, A Petch, W Capon, J Kenny, R Capstick, R Tuima, J Basham, S Maunder, L James, C Doherty, A Reed, J Hodge.

Ireland U-20s v England U-20s

Live, eir Sport, 7.30pm

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