Mike Ruddock has given his blessing to the decision to call Robbie Henshaw and Stuart Olding into the senior tour to North America next month rather than make the pair available to his U20 side at the upcoming Junior World Cup.
Both Henshaw and Olding would have added an enormous amount to an underage side that showed significant promise during their Six Nations but must now attempt to navigate its way through a daunting pool containing New Zealand, Australia and Fiji.
“One of the things we probably haven’t managed as well as some of the other nations is to accelerate the development of some of the younger players and fast-track them to senior international honours,” said Ruddock (inset).
“All of a sudden that is happening for us and I am really excited for those guys. Next year’s crop will start to look at that as well and think ‘if I can play well in the U20s Six Nations or World Cup then I could make the senior squad or tour’.
“What it does is open the door for other guys who might make professional rugby players as well. It would be ideal to have all your best players in the U20 World Cup but the ultimate goal of every player is to play for their country at senior level.”
Olding was one of those who featured last year when Ruddock’s U20s lost a Grand Slam decider to England before defeating South Africa and France on the way to finishing fifth at the JWC, the country’s highest ever finish.
Iain Henderson and Paddy Jackson also featured on those sides, as did the likes of JJ Hanrahan and Kieran Marmion who made significant steps up at provincial level this season.
Ruddock yesterday revealed a squad of 28 for the latest tournament, to be held in France, and which starts next month against the Aussies on June 5.
Only the top side from each Pool will be guaranteed to advance to the main event and avoid the play-offs.
Ireland U20s: Adam Boland (Lansdowne/Connacht); Edward Byrne (UCD/Leinster); Adam Byrne (UCD/Leinster); Bryan Byrne (UCD/Leinster); Steve Crosbie (Old Belvedere/Leinster); Thomas Daly (Lansdowne/Leinster); John Donnan (Ballynahinch/Ulster); Peter Dooley (Lansdowne/Leinster); Thomas Farrell (Lansdowne/Leinster); Ryan Furniss (Worcester/Exiles); Conor Joyce (Malone/Ulster); Darragh Leader (Galwegians/Connacht); Daniel Leavy (UCD/Leinster); Sean McCarthy (Shannon/Munster); Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster and capt); George McGuigan (Newcastle Falcons/Exiles); Ryan Murphy (Dolphin/Munster); Jack O’Donoghue (UL Bohemians/Munster); David Panter (Corinthians/Connacht); Mark Roche (Lansdowne/Connacht); Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster); Rory Scholes (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster); David Shanahan (Clontarf/Leinster); Darren Sweetnam (UCC/Munster); Christopher Taylor (Malone/Ulster); Gavin Thornbury (UCD/Leinster); Peadar Timmins (UCD/Leinster); Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved