Sport Rugby

Sunday 19 November 2017

Ruddock believes big guns will be wary of 'world-class' Ireland

John Fallon in Vannes

Ireland U-20 coach Mike Ruddock has called on his men to create their own legacy when they open their Junior World Championship campaign in France this evening against Australia.

Ireland have just two survivors from last year's tournament in South Africa, but Ruddock said that one of the successes of this competition for Ireland is the way that players have emerged and grasped their opportunity.

His own son Rhys was one of the first to break through and become a full international after the tournament started in 2008, and Ruddock said the current crop can now make their mark in this year's instalment.

He believes that his side can follow up on last year's stunning opening-day victory against South Africa by again laying down an early marker in the opening game against Australia this evening (5.45 Irish time).

Ireland achieved their highest finish in this tournament last year – fifth – and Ruddock, now in his third season in charge, believes that win over the hosts was the key.

"We are in a tough pool but you would like to think after last year that Australia, New Zealand and Fiji would also think they are in a hard pool because Ireland are there," he said.

"We also defeated England and France last year and have gained a lot of respect as a result. It is now up to the current crop to live up to that world-class standard.

"And I think they will. They are really looking forward to it and are really fired up. They have worked very hard and the mood in the camp is good. We know it will be tough but that's always the case in this competition, that's what makes it so good," added the former Wales Grand Slam-winning coach.

He has just two survivors from last year, captain and scum-half Luke McGrath and flanker Josh van der Flier.

Two players, winger Adam Byrne and centre Thomas Farrell, have made the starting side even though they were not involved in the Six Nations.

Australia, who have former Connacht assistant coach John McKee on their management team, are hoping to bounce back after a disastrous tournament in South Africa where they were twice defeated by France after the wheels came off when they were shocked 15-3 by Argentina, having won their opening game 67-12 against Scotland.

The Wallabies have travelled to France without 10 players who are on Sevens duty, but captain Curtis Browning said they are hoping for a good start against Ireland.

"We know they had a pretty good Six Nations. I played in Ireland with our schoolboys in 2009 where we beat the Irish schoolboys in Dublin but lost to the Irish U-19s in Cork," said Browning, a grandson of former Wallaby Dick Marks.

"We know this is a tough Irish side but we have five or six players who have the experience of having played in South Africa last year so we hope that will help us."

Ireland U-20 – R Scannell (Munster); A Byrne (Leinster), T Farrell (Leinster), T Daly (Leinster), R Scholes (Ulster); S Crosbie (Leinster), L McGrath (Leinster) (capt); P Dooley (Leinster), G McGuigan (Exile), A Boland (Connacht); P Timmins (Leinster), J Donnan (Ulster); C Joyce (Ulster), J van der Flier (Leinster), R Murphy (Munster). Replacements: B Byrne (Leinster), E Byrne (Leinster), R Furniss (Exile), S McCarthy (Munster), D Leavy (Leinster), D Shanahan (Leinster), M Roche (Connacht), D Leader (Connacht).

Ireland v Australia,

Live, TG4, 5.45

Irish Independent

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