The Ireland Wolfhounds team to face England Saxons at Sandy Park, Exeter on Saturday, 28th January (KO: 5pm) has been named which includes four Leinster players in the starting XV and a further three on the bench…

The side shows a balance between youth and experience, with nine of the match day 22 uncapped at senior level. Gavin Duffy will be the man with that experience in the back three, with David Kearney and Simon Zebo starting on the wings. Nevin Spence and Eoin O’Malley will form a new centre partnership at this level outside a half back partnership of Ian Keatley and Isaac Boss.

In the forwards, Damien Varley starts at hooker and beside him experienced Connacht loose head prop Brett Wilkinson packs down with Stephen Archer, who has recently broken into the Munster match squad and been part of his province’s Heineken Cup run.

Dan Tuohy wins his third cap at this level and partners Mike McCarthy in the second row with John Muldoon the most experienced player in the squad at this level with 10 Wolfhounds caps to his credit. Captain Chris Henry will play at open side, with Rhys Ruddock starting at No.8 to win his first cap for the Wolfhounds.

O2 Ireland Wolfhounds Coach Eric Elwood is looking forward to the game and the challenge of playing a Saxons team that is packed full of premiership and European experience. “The games against the Saxons are always highly competitive affairs as you would expect and results have tended to go with the home side, but I think we have a good mix in our side and the key message is that we have to match them on all fronts, especially in the physical stakes, to come away with a win.

“Eoin (O’Malley) and Nevin have done well over the last couple of days as a pairing and I am looking forward to see how both Simon (Zebo) and David Kearney travel on the wings after a good couple of weeks for them with their provinces.

“We have a touch more experience in our pack, which I think will be important for this game and good spine through it with Dan Touhy and Mike McCarthy giving us some really good ability across the set piece and in the carrying stakes to compliment a back row that I think can make a good impression.

“I would expect a really good atmosphere for the game and I know the players are looking forward to it.”

O2 Ireland Wolfhounds:

15: Gavin Duffy (Galwegians/Connacht)
14: David Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster) *
13: Eoin O’Malley (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *

12: Nevin Spence (Ballynahinch/Ulster) *
11: Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster)*
10: Ian Keatley (Young Munster/Munster)
9: Isaac Boss (Terenure College/Leinster)

1: Brett Wilkinson (Galwegians/Connacht)*
2: Damien Varley (Garryowen/Munster)
3: Stephen Archer (Cork Constitution/Munster) *
4: Dan Tuohy (Ballymena/Ulster)
5: Mike McCarthy (Buccaneers/Connacht)
6: John Muldoon (Galwegians/Connacht)
7: Chris Henry (Ballymena/Ulster) CAPTAIN
8: Rhys Ruddock (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)

REPLACEMENTS:

16: Mike Sherry (Garryowen/Munster)*
17: Ronan Loughney (Galwegians/Connacht)*
18: Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster)
19: Kevin McLaughlin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)

20: Tomas O’Leary (Dolphin/Munster)
21: Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster)*
22: Denis Hurley (Cork Constitution/Munster)

*Denotes Uncapped at full international level