THE Ireland Under-20 team which will take on Scotland Under-20 at Broadwood on Friday evening [8.30pm kick-off] contains only two players – stand-off Johnny McPhillips and blindside flanker Cillian Gallagher – who have previously been capped at this level.

“As is the nature of Under-20’s rugby, there is fresh look to the side, the majority of the guys haven’t played at this level before however many have gotten good game time with their provincial A teams in the British and Irish Cup this season, so that should stand to them,” said head coach Nigel Carolan.

“We are looking forward to starting the Six Nations. Training has gone well and the boys have gelled as a group. We are taking the tournament one game at a time and are looking forward to kicking things off in Scotland on Friday night.”

Scotland name their side for the clash at lunchtime today [Wednesday] and although they have lost several players with significant age-grade international and professional experience from last year’s squad – including Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jamie Ritchie and Blair Kinghorn – head coach Sean Lineen will be able to select a number of individuals who were involved in either last year’s Six Nations or the Junior World Cup in Manchester during the summer.

Lock Callum Hunter-Hill, who is set to to captain the side, has picked up nine caps playing in both those tournaments. Backrow Matt Fagerson is still only 18 and has not been capped at under-20 level but has acquitted himself well in five appearances for Glasgow Warriors at the start of the season. Prop Adam Nicol and George Thornton featured regulary off the bench throughout the last Six Nations, with Thornton also a member of the Junior World Cup squad.

Behind the scrum, winger Robbie Nairn was first involved in the set-up during the 2015 Junior World Cup and has now accumulated 14 under-20 caps, while fellow wide man Darcy Graham will be looking to make up for lost time after scoring a sensational try in Scotland’s historic victory over Australia in the opening game of the Junior World Cup only to be ruled out for the rest of the tournament with concussion. Lively scrum-half Charlie Shiel also featured last season.


Image courtesy: EirSport