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U-20s bank on experience

IRELAND can call on five of last year's U-20 Six Nations squad as they look to retain the title they secured on the final weekend of last year's competition, writes Donnchadh Boyle.

Former Wales coach Mike Ruddock -- whose son Rhys skippered the 2010 side -- takes over the coaching reins from Allen Clarke.

Ulster's Niall Annett, who will captain the side, Andrew Conway, Jordi Murphy, David Doyle and Brendan Macken all return from 2010 and are in the 22 for the clash with Italy in Parma tonight (6.0).

Interestingly, there are no Munster players in the match-day squad. There are 11 players from Leinster, seven from Ulster, three from Connacht and one exile, Finlay Bealham who has previously been involved with Australian schoolboy sides.

"After winning the championship last season, the stakes are set high for us," said Ruddock. "But this is a new season and a new squad and a clean slate.

"While it is great to have a core of experienced players, we will be looking for the entire squad to show what they can do."

IRELAND U-20s (v Italy): C Gilroy (Dungannon); A Conway (Blackrock), A Kelly (UCD), L Marshall (Ballymena), A Boyle (UCD); P Jackson (Dungannon), B McIlroy (Ballymena); J Tracy (UCD), N Annett (Belfast Harlequins) (capt), M Moore (Lansdowne), M Kearney (Clontarf), D Qualter (Buccaneers), J Murphy (Lansdowne), A Conneely (Corinthians), E McKeon (Galwegians). Reps: D Doyle (UCD), C Carey (Ballymena), F Bealham (Exile), W Iain Henderson (Queen's), P du Toit (UCD), C Marsh (Trinity), B Macken (Blackrock).

Irish Independent