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Tuesday 27 September 2016

Pool of Death looks terminal

Out-half Johnston and flanker Aspil make debut for Carolan

Bill Johnston will make his debut for Ireland U20 against Wales tomorrow. Photo: Sportsfile
Bill Johnston will make his debut for Ireland U20 against Wales tomorrow. Photo: Sportsfile

Ireland will have to stand the formbook on its' head to overcome U-20 Grand Slam winners Wales at the Manchester City Academy Stadium this evening.

There is the lapse in time that has taken place from the Six Nations to the start of the World Cup.

It could just come down to which has spent the time more productively in adapting for summer rugby.

"The game against Wales is a hugely important test for this team," said Ireland coach Nigel Carolan.

"We've been building towards it since we came together as a squad a number of weeks ago.

"Wales are the Grand Slam champions, so it's going to be a challenging game, but one the players are looking forward to."

The withdrawal of the likes of forwards Peter Claffey, Conan O'Donnell and Will Connors makes the Pool of Death look like an even more lethal terminal disease.

The inexperience of the squad is measured by the three starters back from last year in prop Andrew Porter, hooker Adam McBurney and full-back Jacob Stockdale.

"There's a good mix to the team that's been selected," claimed Carolan.

"The likes of Andrew, Adam and Jacob were here last year and can bring that experience into the squad, while there will also be some payers winning new caps.

Debuts

"We're looking forward to seeing what they can do in the green jersey."

Indeed, out-half Bill Johnston and flanker David Aspil will make their international debuts at this age grade, while front-rowers Vincent O'Brien and Vakh Abdaladze should bring that total to four before the finish.

In contrast, Wales are able to select all but one of their starters from the collective that clinched the Grand Slam in March.

There is a positive from this in that giant centre Owen Watkin is the one omission.

"We know it will take a real team effort to do well against Ireland," offered up Wales coach Jason Strange.

"After beating them in Dublin, they produced some impressive performances to beat England away and Scotland at home.

"We are focussing on our strengths and on our own performance.

"We know that if we play to the best of our ability and we stick to our principles of playing attractive rugby, we will be a competitive force."

In an overall sense, there is little evidence available to suggest Ireland can pull off an upset.

Ireland: J Stockdale (Ulster); M Byrne (Leinster), S Daly (Munster), C O'Brien, H Keenan (both Leinster); B Johnston (Munster), S Kerins (Connacht); A Porter (Leinster), A McBurney (Ulster), C Kenny, C Gallagher (both Connacht), J Ryan, G Jones, D Aspil, M Deegan (all Leinster).

Wales: R Williams; T Williams, J Thomas, H Millard, K Giles; D Jones, R Morgan-Williams; C Domachowski, D Hughes, D Lewis, S Lewis-Hughes, A Beard, T Phillips (captain), S Evans, H Keddie.

U20 RWC: ireland v wales (live tg4/Sky Sports 1 (KO 5.30)

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