Ireland Under-20s make six changes as challenge steps up against Wales

Tim Corkery and Nathan Doak combine in new halfback partnership for Friday’s game

U20 Six Nations: Wales v Ireland, Arms Park, Friday, 8pm – Live on RTÉ 2

The necessity for rotation is reflected in Ireland head coach Richie Murphy’s selection for the second assignment in this season’s Under-20 Six Nations Championship, six days after his side opened with a 38-7 bonus-point victory over Scotland.

There are six changes to the starting line-up, three in the backline where Chris Cosgrave replaces Josh O'Connor on the left wing and an all-new halfback pairing in Tim Corkery and Nathan Doak, the latter a son of former scrumhalf, Neil. Corkery replaced an injured James Humphreys early in the victory over Scotland.

Up front Jack Boyle – he had a couple of excellent turnovers when he came on – and Garryowen's Mark Donnelly replace Temi Lasisi and Sam Illo, both of whom were outstanding against Scotland. Alex Soroka switches to the secondrow with Connacht's Donnacha Byrne coming in at blindside flanker.

The Ulster trio of George Saunderson, Jude Postlethwaite and Conor Rankin are included in the matchday squad for the first time, so too Ferghail O'Donoghue; the Cashel secondrow has replaced the unfortunate Darragh Murray – he picked up an injury prior to travelling – in the squad.


Wales have announced an unchanged team to that which beat Italy 25-8 in their opening match. Former Munster and Ireland backrow Denis Leamy, in his first season as Irish 20s defence coach, offered an overview of the Welsh side. "They have a lot of very good players, guys like loosehead prop Garyn Phillips, Harri Deaves, Harry Williams, Joe Hawkins and in Sam Costelow at 10, a really strong and very good player.

“They have loads of players that they can go to and have a really good system. They can go to width, go through you, go over you; it’s a challenge.” Costelow, who kicked five penalties and a drop goal, featured prominently for the Scarlets in the Pro 14 last season.

Leamy was reasonably happy with Ireland’s defence that limited the Scots to a single try but added “there are loads of areas that we need to improve on. I think we were good all across the pitch; were aggressive, had some good bangs and tackles. We understand that this is a difficult challenge [but that] there is a lot of growth in us.

“The game is a little bit different [from my day]\ in that you have to be so accurate technically in the tackles and in your shots. If you get something wrong in your timing the consequences are huge. We do encourage players to bring that little bit of an edge, little bit of dog but it is always channelled in a really correct manner, a technical manner.”

How Ireland have recovered physically from the Scottish game as they take on a bigger team will have a huge bearing on whether they can rack up a 10th successive victory at this level. Game management, maul defence and more of a cutting edge in attack will define their chances.

WALES: J Beetham (Cardiff); D John (Exeter Chiefs), I Evans (Pontypridd), J Hawkins (Ospreys), C McDonough (Dragons); S Costelow (Scarlets), H Williams (Scarlets); G Phillips (Ospreys), E Daniel (Cardiff), N Evans (Cardiff); J Peard (Dragons), D Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs); A Mann (Cardiff, capt), H Deaves (Ospreys), C Tuipulotu (Scarlets).

Replacements: O Burrows (Exeter Chiefs), T Bevacqua (Cardiff), L Jones (Nevers), J Fender (Ospreys), C Tshiunza (Exeter Chiefs), E Lloyd (Cardiff), W Reed (Dragons), T Florence (Ospreys), M Richards (Dragons/Pontypridd), E James (Scarlets), R Thomas (Ospreys).

IRELAND: J Osborne (Leinster); B Moxham (Ulster), S Jennings (Connacht), C Forde (Connacht), C Cosgrave (Leinster); T Corkery (Leinster), N Doak (Ulster); J Boyle (Leinster), R Loughnane (Leinster), M Donnelly (Munster); A Soroka (Leinster), H Sheridan (Ulster); D Byrne (Connacht), O McCormack (Connacht), A Kendellen (Munster, capt).

Replacements: E de Buitléar (Connacht), G Saunderson (Ulster), S Illo (Leinster), M Morrissey (Leinster), R Crothers (Ulster), C McKee (Ulster), B Carson (Ulster), J Postlethwaite (Ulster), F O'Donoghue (Munster), D Okeke (Munster), C Rankin (Ulster).