Richie Murphy names new-look Ireland XV for U20 Six Nations opener

Skipper Reuben Crothers one of four players from last year in side to face Wales

Ireland under-20 head coach Richie Murphy has named four players from last year's campaign in his starting XV for the opening Six Nations clash against Wales at Musgrave Park on Friday (kick-off 8pm, live on RTÉ).

Ulster and Ballynahinch flanker Reuben Crothers will captain the team as the Ireland under-20s return to Cork for a championship game for the first time since March 2020.

Along with Crothers, secondrow Mark Morrissey has been ever-present for Ireland in the engine room during the lead-in to the Six Nations, while prop Jack Boyle and winger Chay Mullins also add previous U20s experience to Friday's team.

Exciting talent Patrick Campbell, who made his Munster senior debut against Wasps before Christmas, starts at fullback, with Mullins and Shane Mallon on the wings. Leinster duo Fionn Gibbons and Ben Brownlee are paired in midfield, with Charlie Tector and Connacht scrumhalf Matthew Devine named in the halfbacks.

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Boyle starts in the frontrow alongside Ulster duo James McCormick and Scott Wilson, while Morrissey is joined in the secondrow by UCD team-mate Conor O'Tighearnaigh. Crothers leads from the backrow, with James McNabney of Ulster selected at openside and Leinster's James Culhane at number eight.

Murphy will be hoping his bench can make a big impact, with Josh Hanlon, Oisín Michel, Rory McGuire, Adam McNamee and Ronan O'Sullivan providing the options up front. Ethan Coughlan, Tony Butler and Aitzol King complete the matchday 23.

Commenting ahead of the game, the Ireland head coach said: “We have been building towards Friday for a number of weeks now and the group have put in a huge amount of work in preparation for the Six Nations.

“We’re excited about the challenges ahead, starting with the visit of Wales to Musgrave Park under Friday night lights. The prospect of returning to Cork and playing in front of a big crowd, including family and friends, is a really exciting one for the players and the management team.”

IRELAND U20 (v Wales, Musgrave Park, Friday, 8pm – Live on RTÉ): Patrick Campbell (Young Munster/Munster); Chay Mullins (Bristol Bears/IQ Rugby), Fionn Gibbons (UCD/Leinster), Ben Brownlee (Blackrock College/Leinster), Shane Mallon (UCD/Leinster); Charlie Tector (Lansdowne/Leinster), Matthew Devine (Corinthians /Connacht); Jack Boyle (UCD/Leinster), James McCormick (Ballymena/Ulster), Scott Wilson (Queen's University/Ulster); Conor O'Tighearnaigh (UCD/Leinster), Mark Morrissey (UCD/Leinster); James McNabney (Ballymena/Ulster), Reuben Crothers (Ballynahinch/Ulster)(capt), James Culhane (UCD/Leinster).

Replacements: Josh Hanlon (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Oisín Michel (Lansdowne/Leinster), Rory McGuire (UCD/Leinster), Adam McNamee (Malone/Ulster), Ronan O'Sullivan (Highfield/Munster), Ethan Coughlan (Shannon/Munster), Tony Butler (Garryowen/Munster), Aitzol King (Clontarf /Leinster).