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Paul O'Connell is a real inspiration for Ireland's U20s, insists Aungier

 

By John Fallon

Ireland U20 tighthead prop Jack Aungier has said that having former Munster and Ireland captain Paul O'Connell as part of their management team is a huge boost to the players.

Aungier is hoping that Ireland can get their World Rugby U20 Championship programme back on track when they take on South Africa tomorrow.

And the promising 19-year-old, a product of St Fintan's school in Portmarnock and Suttonians RFC, believes they can bounce back from the 26-24 loss to hosts France on Wednesday night.

All the players hope that featuring in this tournament is one of the stepping stones to a career in professional rugby and Aungier believes that having an iconic figure like O'Connell in the changing room is a huge boost.

"It's been unbelievable. He's come in and done so much more than the lineout. He's an excellent coach at the breakdown and tackle. And the ball carrying as well, he puts such an emphasis on it. Anything he says, you listen. He's one of the best there ever was," said the teenager.

Aungier admits he knew Ireland were going to be facing three of the biggest packs in the tournament when they were drawn with France, South Africa and Georgia, but he is enjoying the challenge.

"We are in a tough pool. We have a battle in the front row. We know what to expect. The French were very strong in the set-piece but South Africa and Georgia will be equally as strong," he said. "You are rating yourself against some of the best players in the world. It's great to see where you are there.

"The Six Nations was a bit of a shock. It's the highest level I played up until then. But coming to this you know what you expect. The intensity is still very high."

Ireland are lining up replacements for loosehead prop James French and winger Dan Hurley after both had their tournament ended with knee injuries.

The Irish management are hopeful that lock Matthew Dalton will recover from a shoulder injury but he is unlikely to be involved in tomorrow's clash.

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