Ireland have named their side to take on England in the third round of the U20 Six Nations on Friday night.
The game takes place at Northampton Saints’ Franklin’s Gardens at 7.45pm on Friday and will be live on Sky Sports Mix, with the two sides the only remaining unbeaten sides in the competition, and Ireland chasing back to back Grand Slams.
Head Coach Noel McNamara has made four changes to the side that beat Wales last time out including a return for the Ulster pair of Ethan McIlroy and Hayden Hyde, who both missed that game through illness.
Hyde is a former Cranleigh School star and will be lining up against one of his former schoolmates in the England second row, Hugh Tizard. Hyde starts at inside centre and his centre partner is the former Kirkham Grammar School skipper Dan Kelly. In one of the most exciting head to heads, Kelly will be in direct opposition to his former schoolmate and centre partner Connor Doherty, who will be at outside centre for England.
The third former English schoolboy star in the Ireland U20 side is full back Oran McNulty, once of Millfield School and now at Connacht.
Besides Hyde at inside centre and McIlroy coming back in on the right wing, the other changes to the Ireland starting XV see Leinster’s John McKee make his first start of the tournament at hooker, while his clubmate Alex Soroka is promoted from the bench to start at blindside in the absence of the injured Mark Hernan.
Aside from that the side is as it was against Wales, David McCann again skippers from number 8 with Sean O’Brien on the openside, Thomas Ahern and Brian Deeny are in the second row, while either side of McKee in the front row are Thomas Clarkson and Marcus Hanan.
In the backline Lewis Finlay and Jack Crowley are the half back pairing, with Hyde and Kelly, as mentioned, in the centres. Andrew Smith completes the back three alongside McNuly and Smith.
The bench sees Tom Stewart, Harry Noonan, and Charlie Ward covering the front row, with Joe McCarthy and Cian Prendergast covering the rest of the back. Meanwhile Ben Murphy, Tom Corkery, and the fit again Max O’Reilly cover the backline.
Speaking to www.irishrugby.ie ahead of the game, Noel McNamara said:
“We’re pleased to have won the opening two games, while still recognising that there is room for growth. The players are ambitious and they are constantly looking for improvements in their performance, both individually and collectively and that’s the target for Friday night.”
“The fallow week was important as it allowed the players to take a breath and recover, as well as review the first block of games and look ahead to this weekend. We also had a great session with the Ireland Senior team at our home in Irish Independent Park and are now firmly focused on the challenge ahead against England.”
Ireland U20 XV v England – Friday, 7.45pm, Franklin’s Gardens, Live on Sky Sports Mix
15 Oran McNulty (Millfield, Connacht), 14 Ethan McIlroy (Methody College, Ulster), 13 Dan Kelly (Kirkham GS, IQ Rugby), 12 Hayden Hyde (Cranleigh, Ulster), 11 Andrew Smith (St. Michael’s College, Leinster), 10 Jack Crowley (Bandon, Munster), 9 Lewis Finlay (Down HS, Ulster), 1 Marcus Hanan (Clane RFC, Leinster), 2 John McKee (Campbell College, Leinster), 3 Thomas Clarkson (Blackrock College, Leinster), 4 Thomas Ahern (Waterpark, Munster), 5 Brian Deeny (Wexford Wanderers, Leinster), 6 Alex Soroka (Belvedere College, Leinster), 7 Sean O’Brien (Blackrock College, Leinster), 8 David McCann (RBAI, Ulster, captain).
Replacements: 16 Tom Stewart (Belfast Royal Academy, Ulster), 17 Harry Noonan (Greystones, Leinster), 18 Charlie Ward (Tullow RFC, Leinster), 19 Joe McCarthy (Blackrock College, Leinster), 20 Cian Prendergast (Newbridge College, Leinster), 21 Ben Murphy (Presentation College Bray, Leinster), 22 Tim Corkery (Kilkenny, Leinster), 23 Max O’Reilly (St Gerard’s, Leinster).