Portlaoise man Sean Masterson will start at Number 8 on the Ireland U-20 rugby team to take on New Zealand today in their final pool game in this year’s World Cup in Tblisi in Georgia.
Ireland have lost their opening two games against Italy and Scotland and head coach Peter Malone has made 12 changes from the side that lost to Scotland on Sunday. Masterson, along with Roscrea native Alan Tynan and captain Jack Kelly are the only three to retain their starting places with Masterson moving from flanker to Number 8.
New Zealand, who have dominated the U-20 rugby competition since its inception, have won their opening two games and are favourites once again to get their hands on the trophy, having been shocked in last year’s version by Ireland.
And while Ireland can’t make the knockout stages, they do have more games to play to determine their finishing position in the tournament.
Masterson, who is now in the Connacht Academy having started his career with Portlaoise before moving on to play with Tullamore and then Galwegians, won his first U-20 cap during the Six Nations and also featured for the U-19 side this season. He was named on the bench for the shock opening round loss to Italy before the starting the last day out.
Today’s game takes place at 12.30pm Irish time and is live on eirSport.
Masterson is one of a handful of players eligible for selection for next year’s U-20 side – with the 2018 World Cup scheduled to take place in Argentina.