Ireland U-20 to make 13 changes for decider against Georgia

Just two players from side that dismantled New Zealand will start

Terry Kennedy: he will be one of the new faces that will feature for Ireland U-20 against Georgia. Photograph: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Terry Kennedy: he will be one of the new faces that will feature for Ireland U-20 against Georgia. Photograph: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

 

Ireland U-20 coach Nigel Carolan says the abrasive nature of the U-20 World Championships has forced him into 13 changes for their group decider against Georgia Wednesday.

Just two players from the side that dismantled New Zealand in their second pool game will start as Ireland look for the win that will see them qualify for just a second ever semi-final in the competition’s history.

Flanker Greg Jones and winger Hugo Keenan have been asked to line out of their third start in the space of eight days, and Carolan knows he had to test the full extent of his squad.

“We are still a one game at a time team. We can’t look beyond Georgia. We are going to have to freshen it up with new personnel and hopefully they can turnaround a result and we will let all of the permutations and combinations work themselves out and see where we end up but hopefully we will get a top four berth,” said Carolan.

“The key for us is to keep guys fresh in between games. The difficult nature of these U-20 World Championships is the short turnaround.

“When you look at the performances in the last two games, it takes a heavy toll so we had to freshen our team up, some of these guys needed a break now.

“That is great because it is going to give a chance to the rest of the squad. We have a good squad and it was never a case of relying on 15 players. There is a good squad here and more available at home when needed which, as we have seen twice so far, we have needed to call on.”

Three of the 12 new faces that will feature for Ireland are the sons of former Irish senior internationals, with centre Paul Kiernan - son of Michael - winger Terry Kennedy - son of Terry - and scrum-half Niall Saunders - Rob is his father - all handed first starts of the tournament.

Added to that, the tight-head berth will be filled by Clontarf’s Vakh Abdaladze, who’s father played international rugby for today’s opponents Georgia.

With Munster’s Bill Johnston ruled out of the remainder of the competition due to a shoulder injury Johnny McPhillips comes into the starting out-half shirt - he came on for the injured Johnston in the first-half against New Zealand.

And as well as McPhillips, all of the seven other replacements named for the game against the Baby Blacks have been handed starts for this evening’s game, while Carolan has kept some experienced faces on the bench in case they are needed this evening.

Ireland U-20: B Connon (Newcastle); T Kennedy (Leinster), J O’Brien (Leinster), P Kiernan (c) (Munster), H Keenan (Leinster); J McPhillips (Ulster), N Saunders (Exiles); J Bollard (Leinster), V O’Brien (Munster), V Abdaladze (Leinster); E Mintern (Munster), S O’Connor (Munster); G Jones ( Leinster), C Boomer (Ulster), K Brown (Munster). Replacements: A McBurney (Ulster), A Porter (Leinster), A Coyle (Leinster), J Ryan (Leinster), M Deegan (Leinster), S Kerins (Connacht), S Daly (Munster), J Stockdale (Ulster).

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