BOTH Wales and Ireland have been forced to replace a 100+ capped fly-half since the World Cup – the Irish pinning their faith in Munster’s Jack Crowley, while Warren Gatland has filled his No 10 jersey with the Scarlets duo Sam Costelow and Ioan Lloyd so far in the 2024 Guinness Six Nations.

All three youngsters have progressed from the U20 ranks and played against each other in 2020. Four years ago it was Crowley who came out on top against a Welsh side in Cork that had Costelow at No 10 and Lloyd at full back.

Ireland U20 won 36-22 with Crowley converting four of his side’s five tries and adding a penalty for good measure.

Costelow starts for Wales in Dublin on Saturday with Lloyd on the bench.

And the latter said ahead of the Six Nations clash: “It was clear then that Jack was a hell of a player, and he was going to go on to big things. I was playing at full back on that occasion, and we lost.

“I’ve obviously watched a lot of him for Munster and he is a hell of a player, isn’t he?”

While Crowley is emerging from the considerable shadow of Sexton, both Costelow and Lloyd are on probation following the international retirement of another totem figure in Biggar.

Where Sexton dominated his position in the Irish team over the course of his 119 cap, 14-year Test career, Biggar did the same for Wales during the course of his 112 caps between 2008-2023.

Costelow understudied Biggar at the World Cup in France, and started against Scotland in Round 1 earlier this month, while Lloyd got his first start in his preferred position at Twickenham having replaced his clubmate in the first-half against the Scots.

“When I was younger my Dad used to show me YouTube clips of Barry John playing. He was an unbelievable player – I’d never have the cheek to compare myself to someone like that,” said Lloyd, who played all over the back line at Bristol Bears in his developmental years.

“I see myself as an outside half, although obviously any opportunity to pull on the red jersey – whether it’s at prop or outside half – I’ll take it. Outside half is where I’ve always played and where I see myself.

“I try not to think about external factors too much, I just try and go out there and play rugby. I’m just trying to put my best foot forward and execute my role within the team.

“In the No 10 position you are one of the game drivers, one of the main game leaders, so that sort of pressure is expected. It’s something that I anticipated moving into the jersey. I think No 10s everywhere will come under a lot of scrutiny, and probably not receive as much praise as they should in other aspects.

“I think I’ve got a strong running game, and I feel my kicking game is a strength. It’s all about learning from the opportunities I’ve had in the past couple of weeks and implementing them into my game as quickly as possible.

“We’re a young team, but that doesn’t mean these games are throwaway games. We’re still going into them expecting to win and expecting a certain standard from each other.

“The experience isn’t necessarily there from all of us, but we’ve still got that confidence in training and games that we can execute.”

Ireland v Wales is live on ITV and S4C on Saturday (February 24), kick-off 2.15pm.