Nigel Carolan braces Ireland for bruising Pumas encounter in World Cup opener

Nigel Carolan may be in charge of the Irish U20s at a world championship for the first time but the Galwayman has been involved with enough underage national sides to know they face a tough test against Argentina today, 3.30pm (live on TG4).

Nigel Carolan braces Ireland for bruising Pumas encounter in World Cup opener

Ireland will open their World Rugby U20 Championship in Parma today against an Argentinian side who will be bidding to maintain the good record they hold against the Irish at this level.

And Carolan, backs coach in Argentina when thethen hosts turned Ireland over 24-21 in 2010, said that they will again be formidable opponents.

The sides have not met since Argentina made it two wins from three against the Irish at this level, but Carolan said a good start is vital as they prepare for a tough pool which also includes New Zealand and Scotland.

“We have not looked beyond this match, that has been our primary aim. It is a tough competition, five games in less than three weeks, but you can’t look any further than whatever is next up,” said Carolan, who was part of the management of four other Irish U20 and U21 teams.

Argentina hosted South African in a few warm-up matches as part of an annual arrangement, and Carolan was impressed by what he saw from the young Pumas in those matches.

“They have a decent set-piece and are relentless in defence. They will just not lie down. That, and the unstructured part of their game, will make them difficult. They are a good side,” he added.

His own men started the Six Nations in a blaze of glory with impressive wins over Italy and France but then fell away against England, Wales and Scotland.

“We know we are a better side that those performances but it is a matter of going out and delivering it,” he said.

Joey Carbery takes over from the injured out-half Ross Byrne, who started all of the Six Nations games this year as well as featuring in last year’s championship in New Zealand.

Notwithstanding the loss of Byrne, Carolan can call on an experienced group and seven of the starting 15 featured last year in New Zealand.

Four of the backs — Billy Dardis, Ciaran Gaffney, Garry Ringrose and captain Nick McCarthy — played last year when Ireland finished fourth, their highest ever placing in the U20 championship.

Up front, tighthead prop Oisin Heffernan, and flankers Josh Murphy and Rory Moloney, also have the experience of having played at this level 12 months ago.

The only two uncapped players in the squad, Byrne’s replacement Tomas Quinlan and scrum-half Charlie Rock, could make their Irish U20 debuts in Parma this afternoon.


B Dardis (UCD); C Gaffney (Galwegians), G Ringrose (UCD), S Arnold (Ballynahinch), S Fitzgerald (Shannon); J Carbery (UCD), N McCarthy (UCD) (capt); J Loughman (UCD), Z McCall (Queen’s University Belfast), O Heffernan (Terenure College); D O’Connor (St Mary’s College), A Thompson (Queen’s University Belfast); J Murphy (UCD), R Moloney (Buccaneers), L Dow (Queen’s University Belfast) Replacements: S McNulty (UCD), A Porter (UCD), C O’Donnell (Sligo/NUIG), J Dwan (UCD), N Timoney (St Mary’s College), C Rock (Old Belvedere), T Quinlan (Cork Constitution), J Stockdale (Queen’s University Belfast).

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