Head coach Simon Easterby has named three senior internationals, Shane Daly, Robert Baloucoune and Max Deegan in the Emerging Ireland side to take on the Griquas at the Toyota stadium in Bloemfontein tomorrow (12.45), the first of three matches in South Africa.
Daly won two caps, against Georgia (2020) and Japan (2021), Baloucoune has the same number, making a try scoring debut against the USA at the Aviva stadium last year and then winning a second cap against Argentina in the November Test series.
Deegan, who will captain the side, won his only cap to date against Wales in the 2020 Six Nations Championship but the soon to be 26-year-old – it is his birthday on Saturday – has been very unfortunate with injuries.
Jamie Osborne and Stewart Moore form an exciting midfield partnership while Munster’s Calvin Nash completes the backline. In the absence of Ciaran Frawley, Jack Crowley gets his chance in the number 10 jersey.
He had an outstanding campaign for the Ireland under-20 side in the abbreviated 2020 Six Nations but since then his opportunities to play in Munster were very limited under the previous coach Johann van Graan. Ronan O’Gara is a fan and two years ago tried to persuade Crowley to join him at La Rochelle.
The former Bandon pivot is joined by Ulster’s Nathan Doak at half-back. Props Josh Wycherley and Tom Clarkson are reunited in a green jersey for the first time since winning a Six Nations Grand Slam with the 2019 Irish under-20s, while hooker Tom Stewart is a player of great promise.
Joe McCarthy, who toured New Zealand with the Ireland senior team and played against the Maori All Blacks is joined by 22-year-old Tom Ahern in the secondrow. Deegan is joined in the backrow by Scott Penny and David McCann.
Emerging Ireland: S Daly (Munster); C Nash (Munster), J Osborne (Leinster), S Moore (Ulster), R Baloucoune (Ulster); J Crowley (Munster), N Doak (Ulster); J Wycherley (Munster), T Stewart (Ulster), T Clarkson (Leinster); T Ahern (Munster), J McCarthy (Leinster); D McCann (Ulster), S Penny (Leinster), M Deegan (capt). Replacements: D Barron (Munster), M Milne (Leinster), R Salanoa (Munster), B Deeney (Leinster), J Hodnett (Munster), M McDonald (Ulster), J Flannery (Ulster), A Frisch (Munster).