Patrick Campbell’s presence a welcome boost for Ireland Under-20s as they face Baby Boks

Richie Murphy’s side hoping for an incremental improvement after disappointing defeat to France in opening game of summer series

  • Ireland Under-20 v South Africa Under-20 — Payanini Centre (kick-off: 7.0, Irish time, live on Six Nations YouTube channel)

Ireland coach Richie Murphy has made six changes from the side that lost 42-21 to France for the second match of a summer series tournament that is taking place in Verona and Treviso. South Africa, 30-22 conquerors of England the last day, provide the opposition.

There was some good news for the Irish squad as one of the standout performers in Ireland’s Six Nations Grand Slam success, Patrick Campbell, has recovered from the injury that saw him omitted from the original squad. He will start at fullback with the others changes in the backline, coming at halfback. Dylan O’Grady switches to the left wing with Shay McCarthy moving to the bench.

Sam Prendergast, younger brother of Connacht backrow Cian who plays for Ireland against the New Zealand Maori, is named at outhalf, and will be partnered by UCD’s Michael Moloney. Tony Butler and Ethan Coughlan drop out of the match day squad.

There are three further alterations, one in each row of the scrum. Gorey’s George Hadden is promoted to loosehead prop, Diarmuid Mangan, a talented prospect comes into the secondrow while George Shaw lends some size to the backrow joining captain Reuben Crothers and James McNabney.

Junior Springbok coach Bafana Nhleko has retained just two of the starting pack, secondrow Reinhardt Ludwig and backrow Cameron Hanekom from the England game. The backline is retained en masse.

The Baby Boks’ assistant coach Chean Roux said: “The Irish will be hurting after that loss to France and we have to make sure we are physically and mentally prepared and up for the challenge. They are a proud team who showed what they’re capable of during their recent successful Under-20 Six Nations campaign, so we have no doubt what they will bring against us.”

Unfortunately for Murphy he is missing the lion’s share of the Grand Slam side. Ireland cannot afford a repeat of the disjointed start to the French game where they conceded 17 unanswered points. There was greater cohesion as the game went on and hopefully that will be reflected on a grander scale in what promises to be another tough assignment.

Ireland: P Campbell (Young Munster); A King (Clontarf), F Gibbons (UCD), D Hawkshaw (Clontarf), D D O’Grady (UCD); S Prendergast (Lansdowne), M Moloney (UCD); G Hadden (Gorey/Clontarf), J McCormick (Ballymena), D McSweeney (Shannon); C O’Tighearnaigh (UCD), D Mangan (UCD); J McNabney (Ballymena), R Crothers (Ballynahinch, capt), G Shaw (Cardiff University).

Replacements: J Hanlon (Ballynahinch), O Michel (Lansdowne), K Ryan (Shannon), A McNamee (Malone), L McLoughlin (QUB), A O’Mahony (UCC), R Malone (Loughborough University), George Coomber (UCC), S McCarthy (Young Munster), S Wilson (QUB), C Irvine (QUB).

South Africa: D Koevort; D Don, E James, C Banies, S Hartzenberg; S Mngomezulu (capt), N Steyn; C Lavagna, T Lange, S Mabece; C Rahl, R Ludwig; P de Villiers, L Nel, C Hanekom.

Replacements: L Vokozela, L Nunu, C Weilbach, C Evans, S Ningiza, N le Roux, C von Ludwig, K Letebele, R Venter, G Mdletshe, I Khan.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer