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Injuries force Murphy to name much-changed 31-man Ireland squad for U20s Summer Series

Ireland are in Pool A alongside France, England and South Africa for the tournament, which kicks-off in Italy next week.

Ireland captain Reuben Crothers.
Ireland captain Reuben Crothers.
Image: Tom Maher/INPHO

RICHIE MURPHY HAS named a 31-man Ireland U20s squad for the upcoming Summer Series tournament, which kicks-off in Italy next week.

Ireland have been placed in Pool A and will play France, South Africa and England – with all games taking place in Verona – as they look to build on the positive momentum generated by their brilliant Six Nations Grand Slam success earlier this year, with Murphy’s squad also set to play one play-off fixture following the completion of the pool stages.

Ulster flanker Reuben Crothers once again captains the squad, who have been preparing for the tournament with a series of camps at the IRFU’s high performance centre in recent weeks. 

However Murphy has had to name a much-changed squad with a number of his Six Nations group unavailable due to injury, leaving the Ireland head coach to call up players from the Ireland U19s squad who impressed against France back in April.

In total, 15 of the group were not part of the Six Nations squad earlier this year – with Munster’s Patrick Campbell and Leinster out-half Charlie Tector among the notable absentees.

The heavy turnover means Ireland will be up against it as they take on three strong opponents in what will likely be challenging conditions – with the temperature in Verona hovering around the mid-30s this week.

“It’s an interesting one, there’s been a massive turnover within that group,” Murphy said.

The guys, some of them coming back have a big responsibility to get the others up to speed. We have 10 U19s in the squad, so some of those guys have done reasonably well in the 19s programme that was there.

Some of the players (to watch out for); he might not start but big George Shaw coming over from the IQ is an interesting character, 6ft 5in, 107 or 108 kilos, a big man, a little bit to learn, but quite raw and definitely a guy who could come good over the next period and also into next year.

“In relation to U20s, Dylan O’Grady, who didn’t play that much in the Six Nations – he was our 24th man – has really stepped up in the last few weeks and trained well. He’s very quick, a lovely ball player, and will probably end up playing a good bit of rugby at full-back over the next few weeks.”

The new-look group will also serve to temper expectations around a team who powered to such an impressive Grand Slam win in this year’s Six Nations, a clean sweep which included wins away to both France and England.

“Some of those (new) guys are learning a little bit from the guys who were in the squad,” Murphy added.

“We have five from that starting team back from the Six Nations. They will learn from those players, and also from the amount of work we’ve put into them over the last couple of camps.

It’s been an eye-opener for a few guys, training intensity levels and how they’ve been held accountable over the last number of weeks. The turnover of players is a little bit much, but it is what it is. We’ll get these guys to the best level that they can be at.

“These guys have been known as Grand Slam champions, but some of them haven’t played for the U20s yet.”

The series has been organised this summer as an alternative to the postponed World Rugby U20 Championships, which returns in 2023.

The Ireland squad will depart for Italy next Tuesday, and all games will be shown live on the Six Nations Rugby U20 YouTube channel.

Ireland U20s Squad:

Forwards (18)

Adam McNamee (Malone RFC/Ulster)

Charlie Irvine (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster)

Conor O’Tighearnaigh (UCD RFC/Leinster)

Darragh McSweeney (Shannon RFC/Munster)

Diarmuid Mangan (UCD RFC/Leinster)

Dominic Rhys Hey (Gloucester Hartpury Rugby/IQ Rugby)

George Hadden (Gorey RFC/Leinster)

George Shaw (Cardiff University/IQ Rugby)

James McCormick (Ballymena RFC/Ulster)

James McNabney (Ballymena RFC/Ulster)

Joseph Mawhinney (Ballymena RFC/Ulster)

Josh Hanlon (Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster)

Kieran Ryan (Shannon RFC/Munster)

Lorcan McLoughlin (Queen’s University Belfast/Ulster)

Oisin Michel (Lansdowne FC/Leinster)

Ronan O’Sullivan (Highfield RFC/Munster)

Reuben Crothers (Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster)(Captain)

Scott Wilson (Queen’s University Belfast/Ulster) 

Backs (13)

Aitzol King (Clontarf FC/Leinster)

Andrew O’Mahony (UCC RFC/Munster)

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Daniel Hawkshaw (Clontarf RFC/Leinster)

David Dooley (MU Barnhall RFC/Leinster)

Dylan O’Grady (UCD RFC/Leinster)

Ethan Coughlan (Shannon RFC/Munster)

Fionn Gibbons (UCD RFC/Leinster)

Tony Butler (Garryowen FC/Munster)

George Coomber (UCC RFC/Munster)

Michael Moloney (UCD RFC/Leinster)

Reece Malone (Loughborough University/Ballynahinch RFC/Ulster)

Sam Prendergast (Lansdowne FC/Leinster)

Shay McCarthy (Young Munster RFC/Munster).

U20 Six Nations Summer Series:

Pool A: France, Ireland, England, South Africa
Pool B: Scotland, Wales, Georgia, Italy

Ireland U20 fixtures: 

[All games Payanini Centre, Verona, KO 8pm local time/7pm Irish time]

France v Ireland, 24 June, Payanini Centre

Ireland v South Africa, 29 June, Payanini Centre

Ireland v England, 7 July, Payanini Centre 

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Ciarán Kennedy

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