There’s so many friggin matches going on that I’m forgetting who I watched playing for whom and where!
Anyway, Ulster’s next head coach, Allen Clarke has selected an Emerging Ireland side for their game against the South African Presidents XV and, as always with Clarkey, he’s selected precious few Ulster men, making sure our youngsters return home well rested for a busy season ahead!
Niall Annett and Robbie Diack are the only Ulster starters, Michael Allen, Michael Heaney and Ricky Lutton start from the bench and I think they’ll all get plenty of game time in this likely battle of attrition. Lewis Stevenson is heading home due to illness and I’m disappointed not to see Peter Nelson in the squad as outside of David Kearney few of the backs were up to much last time out.
Stevenson’s mystery departure leaves the team fairly lightweight in the physical stakes but at least they have brought in Leinster’s Jordi Murphy to make his first start of the tournament alongside Emerging Ireland captain Rhys Ruddock and Robbie Diack in the back row. Murphy replaces Dominic Ryan who had a fairly low key outing against Georgia.
A freshened-up centre pairing sees Noel Reid make his first start in Georgia alongside fellow Leinster back Brendan Macken and John Cooney takes over from Michael Heaney at scrum half.
Munster’s David O’Callaghan has been brought into to the squad, as a replacement for Stevenson, and has been named on the bench for the clash with the South Africans.
Ireland will need to drastically improve on their performance from last Friday night if they are going to keep this one respectable but you never know, I didn’t give the U20’s much of a chance in this season’s Junior World Championship and they are beating all before them! Diack’s performance against his homeland peers should be interesting! You would expect him to go there with something to prove.
Tuesday’s match will be streamed live on the IRB website, and sees the winning sides from the opening round go head to head. The South Africa President’s XV claimed a bonus point when defeating Uruguay 37-9.
EMERGING IRELAND Team & Replacements (v South Africa President’s XV, IRB Tbilisi Cup, Avchala Stadium, Tbilisi, Tuesday, June 11, kick-off 5pm local time/2pm Irish time):
15 – David Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster) *
14 – Niall Morris (Leicester Tigers/Exile) *
13 – Brendan Macken (Blackrock College/Leinster) *
12 – Noel Reid (Clontarf/Leinster) *
11 – Tiernan O’Halloran (Galwegians/Connacht) *
10 – Ian Keatley (Young Munster/Munster)
9 – John Cooney (Lansdowne/Leinster) *
1 – Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) *
2 – Niall Annett (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) *
3 – Michael Bent (Leinster)
4 – David Foley (UL Bohemians/Munster) *
5 – Ian Nagle (Cork Constitution/Munster) *
6 – Rhys Ruddock (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) (capt)
7 – Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster) *
8 – Robbie Diack (Malone/Ulster) *
16 – Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) *
17 – Richard Lutton (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) *
18 – David O’Callaghan (Dolphin/Munster) *
19 – Eoin McKeon (Galwegians/Connacht) *
20 – Michael Heaney (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) *
21 – Eoin Griffin (Galwegians/Connacht) *
22 – Michael Allen (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) *
* Denotes uncapped player
EMERGING IRELAND RESULTS/FIXTURES – IRB TBILISI CUP:
Friday, June 7: Georgia 15 Emerging Ireland 20, Avchala Stadium
Tuesday, June 11: Emerging Ireland v South Africa President’s XV, Avchala Stadium, 5pm local time/2pm Irish time
Sunday, June 16: Uruguay v Emerging Ireland, Avchala Stadium, 5pm local time/2pm Irish time