The competition for places within the Ireland U20s set-up is set to intensify with the return of Craig Casey and Ryan Baird for Friday night’s Six Nations encounter with Italy in Rieti (kick off 6pm, Irish time).
Both players missed out on the comprehensive victory over Scotland in round two, while Baird was also absent for the opening round win against England. Shannon man Casey played a pivotal role at scrum-half in the latter and will be eager for a swift return to the starting fifteen.
“Craig is back in, so that’s a real positive for us. Ryan is going to give us something that is going to be physical. His athletic qualities are something that are wished upon by most players,” Ireland scrum coach Ambrose Conboy explained.
“He is in a pretty good position to put himself into selection. We are looking forward to having him back in, just up-skilling him again with a few changes in the line-out. Our scrum has gone pretty well as well, so it’s just to make sure he is on point with those things as well.”
Although head coach Noel McNamara has been working with a relatively settled squad, Ulster duo Azur Allison and Stewart Moore remain on the treatment table. Despite not completely ruling them out of the tournament’s remaining games, Conboy admitted they are some way off a return to competitive action.
“I think Azur is potentially (facing) surgery, unfortunately for him, and Stewart is being held longer term in relation to his issues. It’s a real pity. Particularly Azur, because he worked really well for us in Scotland last year when we went over there pre-World Cup.
“Stewart from what I have seen of him in camp has been really good for us at the start. He was very unlucky with his head injury,” Conboy added.