Rugby

Australia U20s Name Louth-Born Scrumhalf To Start Against Ireland

Australia U20s Name Louth-Born Scrumhalf To Start Against Ireland

Irish-born scrumhalf Michael McDonald will start for Australia U20s against Ireland at the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday.

Ireland head into the game off the back of a successful opener which saw them earn a bonus point as they blew past England. Tries from Jake Flannery, Stewart Moore, Ben Healy and John Hodnett and a pair of scores from David McCann were enough to give Noel McNamara's side a 42-26 win in their opening game of the tournament.

At 2.30pm Irish time on Saturday they will face off against an Australia U20s side who recorded a 36-12 win over Italy in their first game, with McDonald pulling the strings for the men in gold.

The Junior Wallabies scrumhalf was born in Louth and was registered with Dundalk RFC before his family made the move Down Under when he was 13 years old.

McDonald has since gone on to establish himself as one of the most exciting young number nines in the world and has already made his debut at senior level with the Western Force.

The Louthman played a starring role as Australia U20s wrapped up their first Oceania U20 Rugby Championship this year, captaining the side and kicking 11 points in their 16-0 defeat of Fiji and starting in the 24-0 demolition of New Zealand.

After another strong performance against Italy on Tuesday, McDonald has been named in the starting line up for Saturday's game against his country of birth, with the winner likely to claim top spot in Pool B.

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Meanwhile, Ireland have made two changes from their win over England U20s during the week. Leinster duo Ronan Watters and Rob Russell come in for injured Ulstermen Azur Allison and Iwan Hughes for the meeting with Australia U20s.

John Hodnett will shift from openside flanker to number eight - the role he filled throughout the Grand Slam-winning Six Nations campaign earlier this year - following Allison's injury, with Watters donning the seven shirt.

In the backs, it's a straight swap as Russell slots in at 15 in the absence of Hughes. The fullback has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament along with Munster's Seán French and will be replaced in the Ireland squad by Leinster's Aaron O'Sullivan and Max O'Reilly, though the pair will not be available for Saturday's clash.

Ireland U20s vs Australia U20s: 15. Rob Russell (Dublin University/Leinster), 14. Angus Kernohan (Queen’s University/Ulster), 13. Liam Turner (Dublin University/Leinster), 12. Stewart Moore (Malone/Ulster), 11. Jonathan Wren (Cork Constitution/Munster), 10. Jake Flannery (Shannon/Munster), 9. Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster); 1. Josh Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster), 2. Dylan Tierney-Martin (Corinthians/Connacht), 3. Thomas Clarkson (Dublin University/Leinster), 4. Charlie Ryan (UCD/Leinster) (capt), 5. Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster), 6. David McCann (Banbridge/Ulster), 7. Ronan Watters (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), 8. John Hodnett (UCC/Munster)

Replacements: 16. John McKee (Old Belvedere/Leinster), 17. Michael Milne (UCD/Leinster), 18. Charlie Ward (Clontarf/Leinster), 19. Declan Adamson (Clontarf/Leinster), 20. Niall Murray (Buccaneers/Connacht), 22. Ciaran Booth (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby), 23. Thomas Ahern (Shannon/Munster), 24. Colm Reilly (Buccaneers/Connacht), 25. Ben Healy (Garryowen/Munster), 26. Cormac Foley (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)

Read More: Munster's Future Looks Bright As Young Stars Shine At U20 World Cup

Kevin Beirne

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