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Nigel Carolan: There is no agenda against Munster players

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Ireland U20s coach Nigel Carolan has retained eight players from last year's Six Nations squad

Ireland U20s coach Nigel Carolan has retained eight players from last year's Six Nations squad

SPORTSFILE

Ireland U20s coach Nigel Carolan has retained eight players from last year's Six Nations squad

Newly appointed Ireland U20s coach Nigel Carolan insists that the strength of the four provinces' academies made the competition fierce to make his 30-man squad for next month's Six Nations.

The Connacht academy director who will perform both roles takes over the position from Mike Ruddock.

He has retained eight players from last year's squad and has named Leinster scrum-half Nick McCarthy as captain.

There are notably just four Munster players selected and Carolan admits that the province will be "disappointed" with such a low representation.

"This selection was made in conjunction with Peter Malone (Munster's elite player development manager).

"We try to pick the best guys for Irish rugby. There has been no agenda there," he said. "There were close calls. Some people will feel hard done by but when you look at the competition in the squad it is hard to argue with who is in there.

Historically

"For a national team it is really important that you have representation from all four sides. Historically it has maybe been weighted heavily towards Leinster with the populace but Munster will be disappointed at the moment.

"But, of the seven or eight guys who got phone calls (to say they hadn't been included) on Monday, they (Munster) have got guys who are very close to this squad and are only actually an injury away from making it.

"Selection is made purely on perception and we are relying mainly on feedback," he added.

The likes of Ross Byrne, Rory Moloney and highly-rated centre Garry Ringrose are all included in the squad for their second Six Nations campaign, which begins in Italy on February 6.

Ireland are looking to build on their best ever fourth place finish at last year's Junior World Cup and Carolan maintained that the strength of Irish under-age rugby is reflected in the squad that he has named.

"I think it's testament to the academy programmes that there is strength in depth and there is competition for places.

"We'll achieve nothing unless there's competition and guys are pushed. That goes right across the board and up to the national team - competition is king."

Irish Independent