Paul Boyle to lead Ireland in tricky Italy opener

Lansdowne’s Paul Boyle will lead out the Ireland U20s for the first time at the Kutaisi Stadium in Georgia today as they begin their World Rugby Championship campaign with a tricky test against Italy.
Paul Boyle to lead Ireland in tricky Italy opener

The Gorey native will be the fourth player to captain the side in 2017, after Jack Kelly, Cillian Gallagher and Calvin Nash all held the armband during the Six Nations.

Having previously skippered the Leinster U19s, Boyle was delighted to receive the honour but is more than willing to seek advice from Kelly and Nash - who also start today’s opener.

Boyle explained: “When you have meetings, it’s not just going to be one voice talking. You have the likes of Jack [Kelly], and you have plenty of others in there, like Calvin [Nash], who are just going to lead in their own way. They might not be captain, but they will lead and they’re very good at it.”

Kelly and Nash will be joined in a potent backline by the likes of Colm Hogan, Gavin Mullin and Ciaran Frawley, and alongside scrum-half Jonny Stewart, Leinster’s Conor Dean is one of two debutants in the Irish team. Diarmuid Barron - who wasn’t included in the 28-man squad announced a fortnight ago - will also make his competitive bow in a front-row that includes Joey Conway and Charlie Connolly.

The Garryowen hooker was drafted in as a replacement for Tadgh McElroy (who was dropped from the squad after turning down an IRFU contract last week), and has received the nod for this encounter ahead of Ronan Kelleher. The tight-five is completed by powerful locks Fineen Wycherley and Oisin Dowling, while Marcus Rea, Boyle and Gavin Coombes are the back-row of choice for new head coach Peter Malone.

The game will be broadcast on eir Sport.

IRELAND:

J Kelly; C Hogan, G Mullin, C Frawley, C Nash; C Dean, J Stewart; J Conway, D Barron, C Connolly; F Wycherley, O Dowling; M Rea, P Boyle, G Coombes.

Replacements:

R Kelleher, G McGrath, P Cooper, J Regan, S Masterson, J Stafford, A Curtis, A Tynan.

ITALY:

M Cioffi; A De Masi, M Zanon, D Schiabel, G D’Onofrio; A Rizzi, C Trussardi; D Fischetti, M Ceciliani, M Riccioni; N Cannone, E Iachizzi, LR Masselli, G Licata.

Replacements:

A Rollero, D Rimpelli, D Gavrilita, L Manni, M Lamaro, MM Panunzi, F Di Marco, A Bronzini.

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