Sunday 21 January 2018

I owed the boys one, admits U-20s villain turned hero McBurney

Adam McBurney, Ireland. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Adam McBurney, Ireland. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE Sportsdesk

Ireland U-20 hooker Adam McBurney felt he owed it to his team-mates when he was binned in the opening half against New Zealand, writes John Fallon.

So he was relieved when he went from villain to hero by scoring the second try which sent them on their way to their historic 33-24 win over the Baby Blacks in the World Rugby U-20 Championship on Saturday.

The Ballymena native, one of a handful of players in the Ireland side to have experience from last year of this tournament - and of playing against the Baby Blacks - was yellow-carded after 18 minutes for a deliberate knock-on.

"I didn't think it was a yellow card," said McBurney. "When I came back on I had to do something to make up for it and thankfully I got a breakaway for the try.

"The lads were buzzing in the changing room and we couldn't believe we had done it. But everyone put in 110pc. I couldn't be any prouder of the boys.

"We thought before the game there were opportunities to attack this New Zealand side."

The Irish set-piece, after wobbling initially against Wales, has been the bedrock of their wins over the Six Nations grand slam winners and the reigning world champions.

"One of our opportunities in attack we were looking at was the maul. We really focused on that in training. We got a try against Wales last week off it," said McBurney.

"This time we got two tries off it - we got a breakaway and a maul over."

Ireland face Georgia tomorrow night knowing that a win will take them into the semi-finals for only the second time ever - two years ago they were defeated 45-23 by eventual winners England in New Zealand.

And McBurney is adamant this team can go a long way.

"If you said to us when we were 17 points down against Wales that we were going to be two from two in the next couple of days, the lads would have looked at you, and I think everyone would have looked at you," he said.

"But now we are going into Georgia with our heads high and confidence boosted and hopefully we can go through to the semis and then hopefully the final."

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