James Hume makes Ireland debut for Wales encounter
Ireland Under-20 v Wales Under-20, Donnybrook (Friday, 7.15pm, live on RTÉ 2)
James Hume with Michael Lowry after their under-19 friendly match against Japan last March. Photograph: Inpho
The highly-regarded Banbridge and Ulster centre James Hume makes his debut at outside centre with captain Tommy O’Brien switching to the right wing. Ronan Kelleher, a late withdrawal the last day, has recovered from illness and resumes at hooker, while Johnny Stewart reclaims the number nine jersey, having missed the Italian game while on Ulster duty in the Pro14.
Their opponents Wales make 10 changes from the side that was well beaten by England with only Cai Evans, outside centre Callum Carson, scrumhalf Harri Morgan, hooker Iestyn Harris, captain and blindside Tommy Reffell and number eight Taine Basham retained in the starting line-up from the last outing.
In the two matches to date the Welsh have given debuts to 24 players as they build towards the Under-20 World Championship in the summer. The visitors have won the last five meetings between the countries in the tournament.
McNamara will be looking for an improved performance in defence from his charges and that they play through the 80 minutes to complement the obvious attacking edge that the team possesses, manifest in players like O’Brien, wing James McCarthy and fullback Michael Silvester.
To provide a platform Ireland will need to be rock solid in the setpiece and look to halfbacks Johnny Stewart and Harry Byrne to provide control and direction.
IRELAND UNDER-20: M Silvester (Dublin University); T O’Brien (UCD, capt), J Hume (Banbridge), A Curtis (QUB), J McCarthy (UL Bohemian); H Byrne (UCD), J Stewart (QUB): J Duggan (Naas), R Kelleher (Lansdowne), J Aungier (St Mary’s College); C Daly (Clontarf), J Dunne (Dublin University); S Masterson (Corinthians), M Agnew (Ballymena), J O’Sullivan (UCC). Replacements: D Barron (Garryowen), J French (UCC), T O’Toole (Banbridge), C Ryan (UCD), R Foley (UCD), H O’Sullivan (Clontarf), C Dean (St Mary’s College), A Kernohan (Ballymena).
WALES: Under-20: C Evans (Ospreys); J Goodchild (Dragons), C Carson (Ospreys), M Llewellyn (Cardiff Blues), T Rogers (Scarlets); B Jones (Cardiff Blues), H Morgan (Ospreys); J Reynolds (Dragons), I Harris (Cardiff Blues), R Henry (Ospreys); O Lloyd (Cardiff Blues), M Williams (Dragons); T Reffell (Leicester, capt), J Botham (Cardiff Blues), T Basham (Dragons). Replacements: R Carre (Cardiff Blues), D Lake (Ospreys), K Mathias (Scarlets), J Pope (Bridgend), M Morris (Ospreys), D Babos (Dragons), B Thomas (Cardiff Blues), D Smith (Cardiff Blues).