Sport Rugby

Saturday 24 March 2018

Ruddock to rest returning Thornbury and Taylor for opening clash

John Fallon in Nantes

Ireland U-20 coach Mike Ruddock is not going to risk two players who are just returning from lengthy injuries for the opening game of the Junior World Championship against Australia on Wednesday.

Ruddock (below) will name his starting XV today but is unlikely to include tighthead prop Chris Taylor and lock Gavin Thornbury for the opening match.

Taylor has been out since the Six Nations with a calf problem and the Malone clubman has recovered just in time to make the trip to France.

UCD second-row Thornbury, who missed the Italian game at the end of the Six Nations with a knee injury, has also been engaged in a race against time.

"The two of them just made the plane. They worked hard on their rehab but we need to get them up to speed this week, so we will probably wait until the Fiji game on Sunday before giving them a run," said Ruddock.

The Irish coach, now in his third year in charge, said that he had no other injury concerns as Ireland bid to build on their highest ever finish last year when they finished fifth in South Africa.

The Irish squad is based in the picturesque town of Vannes in southern Brittany. They arrived on Saturday evening via Paris and will play their three pool games against Australia, Fiji and New Zealand at Le Stade de la Rabine in the town centre.

This is the sixth season of the Junior World Championship and at the launch in Nantes yesterday afternoon, Ruddock reiterated how important the tournament was in the development of players.

"It gives young players a great opportunity to pit themselves against the best in the world in their age grade and we have seen already how quickly guys can move from this level to being full internationals.

"There is a great buzz now that we are in position and everyone is just looking forward to the first game against Australia."

Irish Independent

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