Coughlan to lead Wolfhounds in Galway
Rugby:Munster number eight James Coughlan has been named captain of the Ireland Wolfhounds side to take on the England Saxons at The Sportsground in Galway on Friday night (7.35pm).
Coughlan is one of eight uncapped players in the starting XV named by Declan Kidney, among them the Connacht duo of fullback Robbie Henshaw and centre Dave McSharry named in the back five.
They will have plenty of experience alongside them with Ireland internationals Andrew Trimble and Luke Fitzgerald named on the wings, while Darren Cave will play at outside centre. The uncapped Ulster duo of Paddy Jackson and Paul Marshall are named at halfback.
Hooker Mike Sherry is named alongside his Munster team-mate Dave Kilcoyne and Leinster’s Michael Bent in the frontrow, with Ulster’s Lewis Stevenson and Devin Toner named in the secondrow.
Couglan is joined in the backrow by Munster colleague Tommy O’Donnell at openside and Leinster’s Kevin McLoughlin at blindside.
Kidney has named an experienced bench, with Leinster back Ian Madigan the only uncapped player amongst the eight.
Leicester backrow Jordan Crane will captain a Saxons side containing five debutants in Wasps back Elliot Daly, Leicester outhalf George Ford and the Saracens trio of Joel Tomkins, George Kruis and Will Fraser.
And there are a further four Saxons newcomers on the bench, including Bath’s recruit from rugby league Kyle Eastmond.
Ford, who is expected to sign for Bath in the near future, has been handed the number 10 shirt, with experienced Saracens operator Richard Wigglesworth as his halfback partner.
And Crane is among six senior England internationals in the matchday 23, being joined by Wigglesworth, Paul Doran-Jones, Jordan Turner-Hall, Joe Simpson and Matt Mullan.
“This is a dynamic young side with an average age of less than 24,” Saxons head coach Jon Callard said, ahead of the game in Galway.
“And the players have a chance to show that they can play a major part of the future of England rugby over the coming years.
“The blend of forward power and pace in the back line makes it an exciting one to be involved with.
“We are facing an experienced Irish side in this opening game, and the challenge is to step up and deliver a high-quality performance.”
IRISH WOLFHOUNDS (v England Saxons, Sportsground, Galway, Friday, 7.35pm; * denotes uncapped):Robbie Henshaw* (Connacht), Andrew Trimble (Ulster), Darren Cave (Ulster), Dave McSharry* (Connacht), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster); Paddy Jackson* (Ulster), Paul Marshall* (Ulster); Dave Kilcoyne (Munster), Mike Sherry* (Munster), Michael Bent (Leinster), Lewis Stevenson* (Ulster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Kevin McLaughlin (Leinster), Tommy O’Donnell* (Munster), James Coughlan* (Munster, capt).
Replacements:Damien Varley (Munster), Tom Court (Ulster), Declan Fitzpatrick (Ulster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Rhys Ruddock (Leinster), Isaac Boss (Leinster), Ian Madigan* (Leinster), Ian Keatley (Munster).
ENGLAND SAXONS:Elliot Daly (Wasps); Christian Wade (Wasps), Joel Tomkins (Saracens), Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins), Tom Biggs (Bath); George Ford (Leicester), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens); Nick Wood (Gloucester), Joe Gray (Harlequins), Paul Doran-Jones (Northampton), Graham Kitchener (Leicester), George Robson (Harlequins), George Kruis (Saracens), Will Fraser (Saracens), Jordan Crane (Leicester, capt).
Replacements:Rob Buchanan (Harlequins), Matt Mullan (Worcester), Shaun Knight (Gloucester), Ed Slater (Leicester), Jamie Gibson (London Irish), Joe Simpson (Wasps), George Lowe (Harlequins), Kyle Eastmond (Bath).