Munster playmaker Johnston back as Ireland U20 name World Champs squad

NIGEL CAROLAN HAS included highly-rated Munster out-half Bill Johnston in his Ireland U20 squad for next month’s World Rugby U20 Championship in Manchester.

The Clonmel native, who won the 2015 Munster Schools Senior Cup with Rockwell, has returned to action after recovering from the shoulder surgery that forced him to miss this year’s Six Nations.

Jacob Stockdale, Bill Johnston and James Ryan at today’s squad announcement. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Johnston, who featured in all three of Munster’s pre-season games last summer and is a year young for this age grade, is one of five players in the Ireland U20 squad who have not yet been capped at this level.

Clontarf prop Vakh Abdaladze is rewarded for his superb form for Clontarf in their run to Division 1A glory in the Ulster Bank League, while St. Mary’s back row David Aspil is included thanks to his impressive club form.

Cork Con hooker Vincent O’Brien and his team-mate Evan Mintern, a back row, have also been named by Carolan for Ireland’s campaign next month, which sees them pitted against Wales, New Zealand and Georgia in the pool stages.

The losses of Connacht-capped tighthead Conan O’Donnell, Ulster’s Munster-bound centre Sam Arnold, imposing Connacht lock Peter Claffey, pacy Leinster fullback Jack Power and Young Munster front row Shane Fenton are likely to be felt.

Leinster second row James Ryan, who was superb in Ireland’s Six Nations campaign, captains the squad again.

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Carolan’s men kick off their U20 Championship efforts with a clash against Wales at the Manchester City Academy Stadium on Tuesday 7 June, with a 5.30pm kick-off.

Ireland’s games will be broadcast live on TG4, while the rest of the tournament will be shown on Sky Sports and via World Rugby streams.

Ireland U20 squad for World Rugby U20 Championship 2016:

Forwards (16):

Andrew Porter (UCD / Leinster)
James Bollard (DUFC / Leinster)
Vakh Abdaladze (Clontarf / Leinster)*
Adam McBurney (Ballymena / Ulster)
Vincent O’Brien (Cork Con / Munster)*
Conor Kenny (Buccaneers / Connacht)
Benn Betts (Young Munster / Munster)
Cillian Gallagher (Sligo / Connacht)
James Ryan (Lansdowne / Leinster) (captain)
Sean O’Connor (Cashel / Munster)
Evan Mintern (Cork Con / Munster)*
Greg Jones (UCD / Leinster)
Will Connors (UCD / Leinster)
Max Deegan (Lansdowne / Leinster)
Kelvin Brown (Shannon / Munster)
David Aspil (St. Mary’s / Leinster)*

Backs (12):

Stephen Kerins (Sligo / Connacht)
Niall Saunders (Epsom College/ Exiles)
Bill Johnston (Garryowen / Munster)*
Johnny McPhillips (QUB / Ulster)
Conor O’Brien (Clontarf / Leinster)
Shane Daly (Cork Con / Munster)
Jimmy O’Brien (UCD / Leinster
Paul Kiernan (UCC / Munster)
Jacob Stockdale (Belfast Harlequins / Ulster)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s / Leinster)
Hugo Keenan (UCD / Leinster)
Matthew Byrne (Terenure / Leinster)

*Denotes uncapped player at U20 level

Not considered due to injury:

Conan O’Donnell (Sligo / Connacht)
Shane Fenton (Young Munster / Munster)
Peter Claffey (Galwegians / Connacht)
Sam Arnold (Ballynahinch / Ulster)
Jack Power (UCD / Leinster)

Ireland U20 fixtures:

Wales v Ireland
Manchester City Academy Stadium
Tuesday 7 June [5.30pm]

New Zealand v Ireland
Manchester City Academy Stadium
Saturday 11 June [1.30pm]

Ireland v Georgia
Manchester City Academy Stadium
Wednesday 15 June [5.30pm]

Manchester City Academy Stadium or AJ Bell Stadium, Salford
Monday 20 June

Manchester City Academy Stadium or AJ Bell Stadium, Salford
Saturday 25 June

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