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Ireland under-20s boss Richie Murphy is ready to get back to winning ways after his first loss as head coach.
His Ireland side will face an Italian side that trounced Scotland with dazzling and expansive attacking rugby.
Murphy has been impressed by what he has seen from Massimo Brunello’s side so far in the 2021 U20 Six Nations Championship.
“They’ve got two very good wingers, they’ve got a real offloading threat all the way through their team,” said Murphy.
“They’re playing a very expansive offloading game.”
The head coach also noted that the side boasts the perennial Italian strength in their scrum.
The likes of Sergio Parisse and Martin Castrogiovanni are among the Italian rugby legends that were in the senior pack in recent years.
The trend of great Italian forwards could continue with this batch of U20s but Murphy is focused on his side’s performance.
“We’re very much trying to get back to what we believe our standards are.”
Nine changes have been made to the side that began the loss to England last Thursday.
Daniel Okeke makes his first start after impressing Murphy and the other coaches with his growth in recent weeks.
His boss stated that he can run 100m in just 12 seconds and weighs around 130 kg.
“He’s a lot to learn in and around the game…but when he gets his hand on the ball, that’s when you see what a dynamic athlete he is.”
Alex Soroka and captain Alex Kendellen will join the number eight in the back row.
Their ever-presence in the side underlines their importance to this crop of U20 internationals.
The likes of lock Harry Sheridan, scrum-half Nathan Doak and fullback Jamie Osborne also feature again for the side.
“Those guys [who are ever-present in the side] have been the guys who have stood up within the group and filled leadership roles.”
Kendellen’s work rate on the pitch and Soroka’s experience in the lineout is something the squad can be motivated by.
The trio of Soroka, Kendellen and Okeke will provide the team with a “dynamic back row”, according to Murphy.
Behind them at fly-half is James Humphreys, who makes his return to the side in an Ulster-dominant backline.
Murphy praised the player and son of David Humphreys’ on-field intelligence and noted that he is trusted by the squad.
“James is a great player, intelligent rugby player, thinks about the game, understands how we’re trying to play. He makes the team feel comfortable with his decision-making.”
Murphy added that the team are a tight bunch and love playing for Ireland and each other.
They will want to improve on their performance against England and their head coach has the confidence that they will do so.
“We have a squad of players here that are all very capable of playing at this level.”
The game will kick off at 2 pm and will be available to watch on RTÉ 2.