Monday 22 January 2018

Ireland U-20s aiming to bounce back

Ireland U20's head coach Nigel Carolan. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Ireland U20's head coach Nigel Carolan. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

After last week's humbling at the hands of Wales, Ireland U-20s coach Nigel Carolan has resisted the temptation to shuffle his pack for a daunting trip to Narbonne to take on France tomorrow.

Ireland were outplayed by Wales in Donnybrook but Carolan saw enough in the performance to make just three changes to his line-up.

Jack Power and Will Connors both miss out with respective shoulder injuries while Connacht's Conor Kenny replaces his provincial team-mate Conan O'Donnell who drops to the bench.

Hugo Keenan shifts from the wing to full-back to allow Conor O'Brien to come on to the wing while Dan Walsh replaces Connors. Kelvin Brown scored a try and impressed in place of Connors against Wales last time out and Peter Malone, Carolan's assistant coach, explained the thinking behind leaving the Munster back-row on the bench.

"You don't really carry a seven on the bench because he doesn't cover across the back-row," Malone said. "Dan is a pure seven. He has played very well for Munster U-20s in September and played very well for Cork Con U-20s and senior team. He did well in the trials. It is the nature of the game. Kelvin (Brown) had a super game, made a big impact, but we probably see him more as a six or an eight."

For loosehead prop Andrew Porter, who weighs in at 119kg and is breaking all sorts of records in the Leinster gym, it's a chance to improve on last week's performance. Squatting 280kg is his current best and he maintained that "it is all part of the game". "I think it's an ever-changing game," Porter said. "Being physically ready for every game is a huge part of it. They've (France) always been a big pack."

Ireland U20s (v France) - H Keenan; M Byrne, S Daly, J O'Brien, C O'Brien; J McPhillips, J Poland; A Porter, A McBurney, C Kenny; P Claffey, J Ryan (c); C Gallagher, D Walsh*, M Deegan. Reps: S Fenton, J Bollard, C O'Donnell, S O'Connor, K Brown, S Keirns, B Connon, T Kennedy*. (*Uncapped at this level)

Irish Independent

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