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Monday 5 December 2016

U20 World Cup: Ireland must stretch Scots

U-20s one win away from New Zealand showdown

; Joey Carberry, Ireland. World Rugby U20 Championship, Pool C, Ireland v Argentina, Parma
; Joey Carberry, Ireland. World Rugby U20 Championship, Pool C, Ireland v Argentina, Parma

Coach Nigel Carolan could have been talking about first day saviour Tomas Quinlan when quizzed about the dearth of Munster representatives in the Ireland U20 World Cup squad.

Just wing Stephen Fitzgerald and hooker Sean McNulty made the initial 28-man party.

"I can't account for the player development pathway in Munster," he said.

"I know there are a high number of players left out of the squad that have the potential to be professional rugby players with Munster.

"We brought a few of them to France (for a World Cup warm-up). They showed what they have.

"It is quite competitive in certain areas in our squad and some of their players are on a pecking order.

"I think there is still quality, still potential, maybe more slower-burners than some of the guys we have in the squad."

Well, what do you know? Quinlan was summoned into the Ireland squad due to injury to Ross Byrne and stepped out of the shadows to drill a penalty from tight to the touchline to keep Ireland firmly interested.

This is one slow-burner who has kept Ireland's flame alive.

It should not be forgotten how Joey Carbery put Ireland in a healthy place by striking five out of six penalties.

It has since been confirmed that loose-head prop Jeremy Loughman has been ruled out of the competition with a badly broken nose.

impressed

Quinlan's clubmate Liam O'Connor of Cork Constitution is another who impressed in the warm-up against France and looks to be in line for his first cap at this level.

Already, Ireland's resources are being put to the test in an area, up front, where they are not exactly blessed with size and power.

The Scots will be licking their open wounds from a 68-10 blitz from New Zealand.

They will have to recover in double-quick time to repeat their 17-10 win over Ireland in the Six Nations.

"Scotland are a tough team to play against," said captain Nick McCarthy.

"They will be a really tough challenge. They are a lot better than last year's squad."

The Scots have also got a number of players with PRO12 experience against Ireland's one in Ulster's Sam Arnold.

"They are a bit more used to the physical challenge and they are quite a big side.

"It's not all about size. We like to think that we have a good skill group and that makes a big difference in the overall game."

Scotland looked like they would put it up to New Zealand when opening up with a powerful mauling game.

They just did not have the game in behind to trouble the Baby Blacks, narrowing their focus to a forward eight that had to carry more than its' own far share of the burden.

For Ireland, captain McCarthy rued the fact that they got caught up in playing the beautiful game.

In fact, the willingness of New Zealand to continuously stretch their game is what unravelled Scotland.

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