James McCarthy was the Man of the Match when the Ireland U20s defeated Italy in Donnybrook earlier this month. The back scored two first half tries in a narrow victory for Ireland.
Like his namesake with the Irish football team, McCarthy was not born in Ireland. The 19-year-old was born in Newport but has an Irish father and so qualified to play for Ireland.
Until recently, his international allegiance was with Wales. Then Munster came calling during the summer and snapped him up for their academy.
A highly rated young player with the Dragons, he is someone of whom Wales' all-time top try scorer Shane Williams is aware.
"Unfortunately, it does happen and these are players we’d love to see playing in Wales and playing in the red jersey," said Williams on Monday regarding McCarthy's decision to represent Ireland.
It’s obviously a concern because we want all our best players to stay in Wales, but these things happen. Players fall through the net and you hear these stories.
Look at Josh Adams, who went through the academy system at the Scarlets, none of the regions wanted him and he ends up playing in Worcester and he’s the top try scorer in the Premiership. Luckily we managed to keep hold of him.
These things happen, and you could look at players like Rhys Ruddock, who is playing in Ireland.
McCarthy and Ruddock are not the only players to slip through the fingers of the WRU. Williams also lists England internationals Billy and Mako Vunipola and Sam Underhill.
"Even though they don’t sound very Welsh, we could have had the Vunipola brothers, it's things like that, it does happen. Sam Underhill, we had him at the Ospreys and we did our best to get him in that red jersey.
"Eddie Jones got him over the bridge and he spoils our dreams in Twickenham [with a try-saving tackle in England's win on February 10th].
"You are going to lose some players through the system sometimes. Leigh Halfpenny – none of the regions wanted him for a time and the Ospreys, I remember him coming through, they let him go to Cardiff, thank God he stayed.
"Wales isn’t the biggest place, we’d like to keep hold of our best players really, but sometimes this happens."
Picture credit: Sportsfile
Pictured is Shane Williams, the Welsh record try scorer and British & Irish Lion, who has teamed up with Guinness to announce plans to give Welsh fans a welcome with a difference in advance of Ireland’s NatWest Six Nations clash with Wales on Saturday, 24th February. To celebrate the camaraderie between rugby fans, Guinness has partnered with well-known Dublin pub Paddy Cullen’s to change its name to “Shane Williams” for the day as a nod to the Welsh legend and creating a new ‘Welsh’ ‘home from home’ destination for a pre-match pint. All fans will be welcome whatever their jersey! Guinness will also collaborate with the renowned Welsh Male Choir, Bechgyn bro Tafon, where they will accompany fans in the build-up to the game uniting them in song.