After missing out on last week’s open training session at the Aviva Stadium, Ireland U20 winger Jonathan Wren is back in harness for tomorrow night’s Six Nations showdown against Italy (kick-off 6pm, Irish time).
The Crosshaven native was held back from the workout with Joe Schmidt’s senior squad as a precaution, but has retained his place for the visit to Rieti.
“I was actually being managed last week. I wasn’t in that session. It would have been a good run out. I watched a bit of it, it looked like a great session,” Wren explained.
“I had shin splints for a large part of this season. They watch my load at the start of the week, so I would kind of be going towards the end of the week without too much pain. It’s great, it’s coming right now.”
The Cork Constitution winger has been included in the back three alongside Shannon’s Jake Flannery and Angus Kernohan — who will make his first appearance of the tournament. The Ulster man is undoubtedly the most experienced player within Noel McNamara’s ranks, having recently made his 13th senior appearance for the northern province.
By contrast, it has been a steep learning curve for Wren in his first year out of secondary school.
“The England game was definitely the most physical game I have ever played. It’s a huge step up even just straight out of school and the pace of the game and everything,” the former Presentation College student remarked.
“There is so much detail that goes into everything that when you were watching the matches last year, you would never realise the amount of work that goes into it.”
That opening round triumph over England (which was followed by another successful outing away to Scotland) was particularly special for Wren. Following several seasons in Donnybrook, Ireland’s home matches were switched to Musgrave Park for the 2019 campaign.
Although he is focused on Italy for the time being, Wren is excited about the prospect of facing France on the Leeside in round four.
“We take it a game at a time. We will focus all our time this week on Italy and obviously for me, I would be looking forward to getting back to Cork.
“It was a great atmosphere [for the England game]. If we can get through this week, we will push on then,” Wren added.
Aside from Kernohan’s inclusion at the expense of Conor Philips, the only other alteration to the starting line-up sees Craig Casey replacing Cormac Foley at scrum-half. Four players are in line to make their competitive debuts, most notably Munster hooker Billy Scannell — younger brother of Niall and Rory.