Sunday 21 January 2018

Carolan urging his U-20s to keep focus on themselves and not Italy

Ireland U20 head coach Nigel Carolan (Sportsfile)
Ireland U20 head coach Nigel Carolan (Sportsfile)
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence and Ireland U-20s' biggest challenge this evening will be striking the right balance between the two as they host a winless Italian side at Donnybrook.

One win from Ireland's three games doesn't exactly leave much room for arrogance but there is a renewed sense of belief in their camp this week after their stunning comeback win over England last time out.

Ireland's hopes of claiming the Six Nations title were buried in France a month ago, but with the World Rugby U-20 Championship coming up in June, there is still plenty for coach Nigel Carolan to learn in the remaining two games, against Italy and Scotland next week.

"Going in there against Wales, we were probably a little bit cold," Carolan reflected. "It was a big step up for a lot of guys and we're only starting to find our form now.

"But in saying that, a lot of guys were broken up after the English game. There's a lot of guys still recovering so we're going to need the full two weeks to recover and get guys back fresh again.

"Realistically, we mightn't have been able to field a team if we had to play last weekend.

Physical

"We went into camp with the Irish (senior) team on Tuesday and it turned out to be quite a physical session. It makes me think that I would have liked a game closer to the start of the Six Nations."

Lessons will have been learned along the way, and despite losing Jimmy O'Brien (broken leg) and Jack Power (hamstring and shoulder) to injury, Carolan can at least call upon Jacob Stockdale for the first time in the tournament.

John Poland is a late replacement for scrum-half Stephen Kerins, who failed to recover from a knee injury. Brett Connon starts at full-back and Greg Jones at No 8. The impressive James Ryan again skippers the side from the second-row.

"We're not going to try and focus too much on Italy. Again, if we focus on ourselves and what we do well, we know we're going down the right road," Carolan said.

"Especially on a fast pitch, it suits us. If we're consistent in our performance, I think we should be comfortable but with that, there are a dangerous side and they're not going to lie down."

Verdict: Ireland

Ireland U-20s - B Connon; H Keenan, S Daly, C O'Brien, J Stockdale; J McPhillips, J Poland; A Porter, A McBurney, C O'Donnell; P Claffey, J Ryan (capt); C Gallagher, W Connors, G Jones. Reps: H Kean, J Bollard, B Betts, S O'Connor, M Deegan, N Saunders, P Kiernan, T Kennedy.

Italy U-20s - M Minozzi; P Bruno, R Dal Zilo, M Zanon, L Sperandio; L Mantelli, V Charly Ernest; D Rempelli, M Manfredi, M Riccioni; L Krumov, S Ortis; G Pettinelli, D Ciotoli, G Venditti. Reps: N Broglia, G Amedola, G Zilocchi, L R Masselli, M De Marco, G Lucchin, M Angelini, L Masato.

REF - S Grove-White (SRU)

Ireland U-20s v Italy U-20s, Live, RTE 2, 7.35

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