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Four changes for Ireland for must-win encounter versus Australia

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images for World Rugby)

Ireland have made four changes to their starting XV for Thursday’s second pool match at the Junior World Championship. The U20s Six Nations champions were held to a dramatic 34-all draw in their opening game versus England last Saturday and head coach Richie Murphy has now made some alterations to his line-up to take on Australia back in Paarl.


A statement read: “There are four changes to the Ireland starting team from Saturday’s opening Pool B draw with England, as James Nicholson, Ronan Foxe, Charlie Irvine and Brian Gleeson come into the XV.

“Nicholson is named on the left wing as part of the Ireland back three with Henry McErlean and Andrew Osborne, with Hugh Gavin and John Devine forming the midfield partnership. Sam Prendergast and Fintan Gunne continue in the half-backs.

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“In the pack, Paddy McCarthy moves across the front row to loosehead prop, with captain Gus McCarthy at hooker and Foxe in line for his U20s debut at tighthead. Irvine comes into the side to partner Conor O’Tighearnaigh in the engine room, while James McNabney, Ruadhan Quinn and Gleeson make up the back row.

“On the bench, Danny Sheahan, George Morris, Fiachna Barrett, Evan O’Connell and Diarmuid Mangan provide the forward options, with scrum-half Jack Oliver set to win his first U20s cap. Harry West and Rory Telfer complete the matchday squad.”


With the tournament’s three pool winners and just a single best runner-up set to progress to the semi-finals, the likelihood is that Pool B will only provide one qualifier and it means there is pressure on Ireland in what is essentially a cup final fixture for them due to last weekend’s draw.

Murphy said: “It has been a quick turnaround from Saturday, but we were able to turn the page positively and learn from our first outing of the tournament.


“We know the very nature of this World Rugby U20 Championship is that the big games come thick and fast and facing the Junior Wallabies is another huge test for our group. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Australia, meanwhile, have made 10 changes to their starting XV following their opening-round comeback win over Fiji last Saturday in Stellenbosh.

Ireland (vs Australia U20s – Thursday, 11am SAST, 10am Irish time)
15. Henry McErlean (Terenure/Leinster)
14. Andrew Osborne (Naas/Leinster)
13. Hugh Gavin (Galwegians/Connacht)
12. John Devine (Corinthians/Connacht)
11. James Nicholson (UCD/Leinster)
10. Sam Prendergast (Lansdowne/Leinster)
9. Fintan Gunne (Terenure/Leinster)
1. Paddy McCarthy (Dublin University/Leinster)
2. Gus McCarthy (UCD/Leinster)(captain)
3. Ronan Foxe (Old Belvedere/Leinster)*
4. Charlie Irvine (Queen’s University/Ulster)
5. Conor O’Tighearnaigh (UCD/Leinster)
6. James McNabney (Ballymena/Ulster)
7. Ruadhan Quinn (Old Crescent/Munster)
8. Brian Gleeson (Garryowen/Munster)

16. Danny Sheahan (UCC/Munster)
17. George Morris (Lansdowne/Leinster)
18. Fiachna Barrett (Corinthians/Connacht)
19. Evan O’Connell (UL Bohemians/Munster)
20. Diarmuid Mangan (UCD/Leinster)
21. Jack Oliver (Garryowen/Munster)*
22. Harry West (Buccaneers/Connacht)
23. Rory Telfer (Queen’s University/Ulster)
*Denotes uncapped at U20s level


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