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Stewart and Rea return as Malone rings the changes

 

By Jonathan Bradley

Ireland Under-20s head coach Peter Malone has rung the changes ahead of his side's concluding pool fixture of a disappointing Junior World Championship.

The young guns will meet New Zealand in Georgia today (12.30pm) but already know they cannot make the semi-finals and will, instead, be fighting it out for the lower ranking spots.

After losses to both Italy and Scotland, only full-back Alan Tynan, centre Jack Kelly and No 8 Sean Masterson are retained from the previous selection.

Two Ulstermen have been restored to the side in scrum-half Jonny Stewart and back-row Marcus Rea, but Angus Curtis has returned home with concussion as Munster's Conor Fitzgerald starts at 10 having only been called up this week.

"It's been a difficult opening to the tournament for the team," admitted Malone.

"But we have a young side and, while everyone is disappointed that the results haven't gone our way so far, the players will have gained a lot from those two games.

"There's more players gaining their first U20s caps so it gives them the opportunity to show what they can do in an Ireland jersey.

"New Zealand have looked impressive in their opening games against Scotland and Italy so we will need to take the learnings from our opening games and be ready for a huge test."

Ireland: A Tynan; M Silvester, J Kelly, D McCarthy, L Coombes; C Fitzgerald, J Stewart; J Conway, A Moloney, G McGrath; Gavin Coombes, J Regan; M Rea, J Foley, S Masterson.

Replacements: R Kelleher, J Duggan, C Connolly, F Wycherley, C Doris, J Stafford, C Dean, C Frawley.

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