Irish U20s coach Noel McNamara has named his side to take on England in their World Cup opener on Monday evening with Shannon RFC’s Jake Flannery and Craig Casey as well as Young Munster’s Josh Wycherley
Ulster Academy trio Iwan Hughes, Stewart Moore and Azur Allison will make their debuts for the Pool B opener takes place at the Club de Rugby Atheneo Immaculada in Santa Fe (kick-off 3.30pm local time/7.30pm Irish time – live on eir Sport 1).
Ireland will be looking to make it tow wins on the bounce over their neighbours whom they beat 35-27 en route to a Grand Slam earlier in the year.
Josh Wycherley, top-scoring hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin and Thomas Clarkson form a familiar front row, supported by captain Charlie Ryan and fellow lock Ryan Baird who makes his first Ireland U-20 start. Banbridge clubman David McCann does likewise in a new-look back row which includes openside John Hodnett and debutant Allison at number 8.
With Harry Byrne on the list of injury-enforced absentees, head coach Noel McNamara has opted to move Jake Flannery from full-back to out-half. He partners his Shannon and Munster team-mate Craig Casey at half-back, with Moore and Leinster talent Liam Turner combining in the centre.
Fresh from his first year in the Ulster Academy, Hughes wins his first Ireland U-20 cap at full-back with his provincial colleague Angus Kernohan and Munster’s Jonathan Wren on the wings. Tierney-Martin and Ryan are the two players who have experience of last summer’s tournament in France.
World Rugby have introduced a change to how replacements can be used for this year’s U-20 Championship, with the remaining squad members outside of the starting XV all allowed to be named on the bench. Declan Adamson, Charlie Ward, Thomas Ahern (Shannon RFC) and IQ Rugby’s Ciaran Booth are standing by to make their debuts.
There is more Limerick involvement with Garryowen FC’s Ben Healy also amongst the replacements.
Speaking ahead of the opening game in Argentina, McNamara said:
We arrived into Santa Fe on Thursday and the players have settled in really well. They’ve focused on their recovery after the travel and are now looking forward to taking the field and getting things underway.
“We know from the Six Nations that England are a good side, and they have a lot of tradition in this tournament, but the primary focus is ourselves and what we control on the day.”
The 2019 installment of the World Rugby U-20 Championship will run from June 4 to 22, and Santa Fe’s Club de Rugby Atheneo Immaculada is the venue for Ireland’s pool games against England, Australia and Italy. The play-off fixtures will take place in Rosario between the Racecourse Stadium and Club Old Resian.