Tommy Bowe has called on Andy Farrell to give Ulster’s young guns a chance by starting them in one of Ireland’s opening Six Nations games.
Ireland kick off their 2022 Six Nations campaign against reigning champions Wales in Dublin, before travelling to Paris the following week to take on tournament favourites France.
Farrell is likely to select as strong a team as possible for those two games, while a number of changes will potentially be made in the round three encounter with Italy, but Bowe wants some young Ulster players to get a chance before then.
Former Ireland winger Bowe was speaking on the BBC’s Ulster Rugby Show and called on Farrell to take a chance on some less experienced players against Wales and France.
Tommy Bowe on the Ulster youngsters in Ireland’s Six Nations squad.
“I’d love to see James Hume get an opportunity in one of the games early on in the Six Nations,” Bowe said.
“I would say Robert Baloucoune would start, I think Andrew Conway will move to the left wing and I think Mike Lowry has a real opportunity.
“We know how good Hugo Keenan is, we know what a solid operator he is and he’s playing great for Leinster but give Lowry a chance. This is the sort of chance that you want because we’ve got the All Blacks in the summer.
“You need to give these guys a bit of game time now so that we can see where they stand. I do think these guys have to be given an opportunity and guys playing on form have to be picked.”
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Andy Farrell was reluctant to test young players in November.
If Farrell’s selections in the Autumn Nations Series are anything to go by, it is unlikely that several inexperienced players will start against the likes of Wales and France.
The head coach was very consistent in his selections in Ireland’s three games in November, with injuries mainly responsible for some changes in the final game of the month against Argentina.
Of the young Ulster players that Bowe mentioned, Baloucoune is the most likely to start against either Wales or France, having played in that match against Argentina despite the good form of Andrew Conway.
James Lowe has been ruled out of Ireland’s first two Six Nations games due to injury, and Farrell may well opt for Baloucoune on the wing again, unless he decides to go with the experienced Keith Earls.