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Ireland under-20s lock forward Harry Sheridan spent his year at Trinity College from the comfort of his own home and had more time for rugby as a result.
The lock, who is listed as a player for Dublin University FC, was awarded the opportunity to enter the Kingspan bubble in Ulster during the year and has not looked back since.
The 19-year-old has been able to train with the seniors and play for Ulster ‘A’ throughout the season.
“I don’t think I actually would have been able to complete my degree and pass, thank god, for this year if it had not have been for coronavirus,” said Sheridan.
From November onwards, Sheridan took training sessions with the senior squad at Ulster and enjoyed every minute of them.
The lock singled out Ian Madigan as a welcoming figure in the squad.
He said that Madigan offered advice during the sessions and on a one-on-one basis when he was with the seniors.
“I think he’s one of those guys who’s always going to look to bring on the young guys first and go to that extra step just to make us feel welcome.”
Sheridan earned his opportunity with Richie Murphy’s Irish U20 side after an impressive season and has been a consistent name on the teamsheet.
He has built up a good rapport with the players in the squad, including his second-row partner against Italy, Mark Morrissey.
He praised all three Ireland U20 coaches – Murphy, ‘Collie’ Tucker and Denis Leamy – after experiencing their expertise first-hand in the camp.
The side has looked solid defensively, excluding some discipline issues against England, and their set-pieces and attack have been very impressive for the majority of the U20 Six Nations Championship thus far.
Sheridan believes they can learn from the errors that they made against the unbeaten English side and that they will improve against Italy on Wednesday.
“We’ve got a game plan for Italy and we are looking to execute it to the best of our ability.”
The game will kick off at 2 pm and will be shown live on RTÉ 2.