Jacob Stockdale returns to Ireland U20 side for Italy clash

Winger has been playing for Ulster in the Pro 12

Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale will make his first appearance for Ireland Under-20s this season in Friday’s Six Nations game  against Italy at Donnybrook. Photograph: Kevin Barnes/Inpho

Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale will make his first appearance for Ireland Under-20s this season in Friday’s Six Nations game against Italy at Donnybrook. Photograph: Kevin Barnes/Inpho

 

Jacob Stockdale will make his first appearance of the season for the Ireland Under-20s in Friday’s Six Nations Championship match against Italy at Donnybrook (7.35pm).

The Ulster wing played for the age-grade team last season but so far in the campaign has been required by his province to play in the Guinness Pro12. His return is timely because there are a number of injuries in the backline with fullback Jack Power (hamstring) and centre Jimmy O’Brien (stress fracture) ruled out.

Stockdale takes his place on the left wing, Newcastle Falcons’ Brett Connan makes a first start at fullback while Clontarf’s Conor O’Brien switches to partner Shane Daly in the centre. The pack is the same one that helped Ireland to a superb 26-20 win over England at Kingston Park, Newcastle a fortnight ago.

Greg Jones retains his place at number eight with Max Deegan fit again having missed the English match but included among the replacements. James Ryan, with three tries in as many matches, leads the team while Paul Kiernan, a son of former Irish centre Michael, Ben Betts and St Mary’s hooker Hugo Kean will all hope to make their respective debuts off the bench.

Ireland coach Nigel Carolan said: “We knew that this group of players were very capable of playing winning rugby, but errors had cost us in previous games. While it was satisfying to get the victory away to England over in Newcastle, the important thing now is that we park that win and continue to build and develop as a team.

“There are a couple of enforced changes to the backs and some new faces amongst the substitutes so it changes things up a bit as we come to the latter stages of the competition.

“Italy travel to Donnybrook having made England and Scotland work very hard to secure their wins, so I’ve no doubt they’ll be looking to push us hard on Friday night. If we replicate our last performance, I am confident that we can come away with a successful outcome.”

IRELAND: B Connon (Newcastle Falcons); H Keenan (UCD/Leinster), S Daly (Cork Con/Munster), C O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster), J Stockdale (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster); J McPhillips (QUB/Ulster), S Kerins (Sligo/Connacht); A Porter (UCD/Leinster), A McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster), C O’Donnell (Sligo/Connacht); P Claffey (Galwegians/Connacht), J Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster, capt); C Gallagher (Sligo/Connacht), W Connors (UCD/Leinster), G Jones (UCD/Leinster).

Replacements: H Kean (St Mary’s Leinster), J Bollard (Dublin University Leinster), B Betts (Munster/Young Munster), S O’Connor (Cashel/Munster), M Deegan (Lansdowne/Leinster), J Poland (Cork Con/Munster), P Kiernan (UCC/Munster), T Kennedy (St Mary’s/Leinster).

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