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Rising Banbridge star Hume is fast-tracked through for Irish debut

 

By Michael Sadlier

Fast-tracking promising Banbridge centre James Hume into the Ireland Under 20s starting side to play Wales, and after just one club game under his belt, was never exactly going to come in under the radar.

The 19-year-old had been side-lined with injury this season but, having proved his fitness last weekend for Bann when he scored on his All-Ireland League debut, he is clearly so highly rated that he has been parachuted straight in by coach Noel McNamara for tonight's clash with Wales in Donnybrook, Dublin (kick-off 7.15pm).

Hume, who was a key part of the RBAI side which secured a hat-trick of Schools' Cup successes last season, is a powerful runner, and makes his Under-20s bow alongside his fellow Ulster-based centre Angus Curtis.

The call-up for Hume is one of three changes to the fourth-placed Irish side who narrowly beat Italy 38-34 last time out at Donnybrook.

Ulster scrum-half Jonny Stewart is recalled after featuring for his home province when the Guinness PRO14 meeting with the Southern Kings clashed with the Under-20s' game against Italy, and also in the defeat to Edinburgh at Kingspan Stadium last Friday.

The only other alteration to the starting line-up sees Leinster Academy hooker Ronan Kelleher take his place in the front row after withdrawing from the Italian game due to illness.

In total there are six Ulster-based players in the squad with Ballymena flanker Matthew Agnew being retained in the starting side from last time out while, on the bench, Academy prop Tom O'Toole and Ballymena back three player Angus Kernohan are poised to enter the fray once again.

Skipper Tommy O'Brien shifts position to the wing in order to accommodate Hume as Ireland bid to stay in contention after losing their opening game to France.

The third-placed Welsh have also lost one game and, along with Ireland, trail leaders France and second-placed England by five points at this early stage opf the competition.

"We had a good hit out against the senior squad in Athlone last week," said coach McNamara.

"Wales bring a new challenge and we took our foot off the pedal in the second half against Italy, so we'll be looking for a more sustained performance."

Ireland: M Silvester, T O'Brien (capt), J Hume, A Curtis, J McCarthy, H Byrne, J Stewart; J Duggan, R Kelleher, J Aungier, C Daly, J Dunne, S Masterson, M Agnew, J O'Sulivan.

Subs: D Barron, J French, T O'Toole, C Ryan, R Foley, H O'Sullivan, C Dean, A Kernohan

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