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Carolan's ambitious Ireland U20s set for visit of highly-rated France

Prop Oisin Heffernan explains how the head coach is making his players more ‘independent’.

The Ireland U20s took on Italy in difficult conditions last week.
The Ireland U20s took on Italy in difficult conditions last week.
Image: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

NEW IRELAND U20S coach Nigel Carolan has taken little time to embed his philosophy into the team.

After Carolan was appointed last October, he won his first match in charge last week, as the Irish team got their Six Nations campaign off to a positive start, earning a comprehensive 47-15 victory over Italy.

Prop Oisin Heffernan was satisfied with the performance overall, as Ireland prevailed in difficult conditions.

That said, Heffernan ackowledges that the game was far from easy on the eye.

“We wanted to get the ball rolling and you can’t really hold back against Italy. You want to go and show your potential and I thought we did in those conditions — scoring seven tries wasn’t easy, but I thought it was a good performance.

“It was hard against the Italians because the conditions were so bad. I found that we lacked a bit in the scrum, but we can still bring a lot more. We’ve been practicing our scrums and lineouts the whole time, because we want to be a strong forward pack to be reckoned with. I feel like we have a lot more to show, even though we did well against Italy. It’s a benchmark that we can keep improving on.”

Oisin Heffernan Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

(Ireland’s Oisin Heffernan is optimistic ahead of tonight’s clash with France)

The snowy conditions in Italy were so bad that the match almost didn’t go ahead at one point.

“The captain’s run was covered in snow, it was definitely a new experience. It was actually nice to experience that. But the locals were out from 7am the next day clearing the snow and they put a lot of effort into making sure the match went ahead. Thank God they did.”

Heffernan says Carolan was content with how his first match in charge panned out, with his influence already starting to show.

“Since day one of camp, he has been putting us in the roles of being independent to make the decisions ourselves and it helps because you can diagnose the problem yourself on the pitch. No one is looking up to the stand and looking for the manager. It does help. It was a lot to take at the start, but we are getting used to it now.”

Having dispatched Italy with relative ease, Ireland U20s this weekend face what will likely be a much tougher test against France this evening [KO 19.05].

Heffernan, having watched the current Six Nations U20 champions beat Scotland 47-6 in their opening encounter, is well aware of what their upcoming opponents can bring to the table.

“We saw them against Scotland over the weekend. They are big physical lads up front and they have the French flair — if you give them space, they love to play. It’s more about confronting them up front between the scrum and the lineout. They are a big bunch of lads and [it's about] not giving them space to play. That’s the main goal.

“I played France in the Six Nations last year, I played U19s against France last year and I played them in the World Cup last year. I’ve got a bit of experience on them but it is all about not letting them have their space and [letting them play with] the flair they love to play with. You just really [have to] get up in their face and put it to them.”

Ireland

15. Billy Dardis (UCD/ Leinster)
14. Jack Owens (QUB/ Ulster)
13. Garry Ringrose (UCD/ Leinster)
12. Sam Arnold (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
11. Stephen Fitzgerald (Shannon/ Munster)
10. Ross Byrne (UCD / Leinster)
9. Nick McCarthy (UCD/ Leinster) (captain)
1. Jeremy Loughman (UCD / Leinster)
2. Zack McCall (QUB/Ulster)
3. Oisin Heffernan (Terenure/Leinster)
4. David O’Connor (St. Mary’s/Leinster)
5. Alex Thompson (QUB/Ulster)
6. Josh Murphy (UCD/Leinster)
7. Rory Moloney (Buccaneers/Connacht)
8. Lorcan Dow (QUB/Ulster)

Replacements:                 

16. Adam McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster)
17. Michael Lagan (Ballymena/Ulster)
18. Conan O’Donnell (Sligo/NUIG/Connacht)
19. Cian Romaine (Buccaneers/Connacht)
20. Nick Timoney (St. Mary’s/Leinster)
21. Jack Cullen (Shannon/Munster)
22. Joey Carbery (UCD/Leinster)
23. Fergal Cleary (Lansdowne / Leinster)

France

15. Thomas Ramos (Toulouse)
14. Arthur Bonneval (Toulouse)
13. Elliot Roudil (La Rochelle)
12. François Fontaine (Clermont)
11. Lucas Blanc (Bordeaux)
10. Lucas Meret (Bordeaux)
9. Anthony Meric (Toulon)

1. Rodrigue Neti (Toulouse)
2. Julien Marchand (Toulouse)
3. Michaël Simutoga (Clermont)
4. Tristan Labouteley (Montpellier)
5. Cyril Cazeaux (Dax)
6. Sékou Macalou (Massy)
7. Lucas Bachelier (Perpignan)
8. Fabien Sanconnié (Brive)

Replacements:

16. Camille Chat (Racing Métro)
17. Thibault Estorge (Clermont)
18. Quentin Bethune (Agen)
19. Julien Delannoy (Montpellier)
20. Martin Devergie (Montpellier)
21. Antoine Dupont (Castres)
22. Damian Penaud (Clermont)
23. Valentin Saurs (Agen)

This article was originally published at 6.15, then updated at 15.10.

Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony: ‘There’s always a fear factor with France>’

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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