Wales Under 18 head coach Allan Lewis has named 10 young Ospreys in his 35 man squad for the forthcoming capped matches against France and England.
It is an experienced squad with 20 players having been involved in the wins over Australian Schools in November, while five members of the squad – outside half Daniel Jones along with forwards Keagan Bale, Adam Beard, Tom Phillips and Jon Fox, travelled to South Africa last summer to play in a four nations tournament against hosts South Africa along with England and France.
Following these forthcoming games, Lewis will reduce the squad ready for the FIRA-AER Under 18 European Championship in Poland at Easter.
He said, "Our philosophy over the last three seasons at Under 18 level has been to challenge the opposition with ball in hand, and to prioritise that approach above all other options at this age group. We firmly believe that emphasis helps to maximise our talent base and develop players capable of playing attractive rugby at the highest level with ball in hand.
"In that respect, it was a real boost to get the wins over Australian Schools in November. It showed the players they can not only play attractive rugby, but win games playing that way and win games against southern hemisphere opposition.”
Fifteen of last summer's Wales Under 18 squad that travelled to South Africa are now involved with the Wales Under 20 set-up and Lewis believes regular matches against the top teams are vital in making that transition as smooth as possible.
"The benefit players have gained from the last two summer tours to South Africa is immense", he added.
"It gives players experience of playing against southern hemisphere and top northern hemisphere sides, away from home, before they go into the Under 20 set-up and compete at the Junior World Championship. We saw with last season's Under 20 side that they no longer feared playing against the southern hemisphere teams and the more we do that, the better.
"Playing these Tests against France and England will be a great challenge for this squad, especially with a one week turnaround between matches. The competition for places in the group has been keener than ever, with players involved in the WRU Wednesday Under 18 League pushing for places in the Regional Under 18 squads and we are pleased with the skill levels we have seen in training. Both France and England will bring a physical challenge and will test us in attack and defence but they will provide a great yardstick as we go forward.”
Wales Under 18 squad for forthcoming internationals against France and England:
Kieron Assirratti (Blues/ Coleg y Cymoedd/ Wattstown), Lewis Kirby (Ospreys / Pencoed Col/ Bridgend Ath), Dillon Lewis (Blues / Coleg y Cymoedd / Pontypridd), Keagan Bale (Dragons/ Coleg Gwent / Caerleon), Robert Lewis (Blues/ St Peters / Coleg y Cymoedd), Leon Brown (Dragons/ Newport High), Harrison Walsh (Ospreys / Bishopgore/ Mumbles), Liam Belcher (Blues/ Coleg y Cymoedd / Pontypridd), Dafydd Hughes (Scarlets / Llandovery College / Llandovery), Adam Beard (Ospreys / Neath Port Talbot College/ Morriston), Matthew Dodd (Ospreys / Olchfa / Dunvant), Seb Davies (Blues / Coleg y Cymoedd / Pentyrch), Calum Haggett (Blues / Coleg y Cymoedd / Gilfach Goch), Josh Middleton (Scarlets / Coleg Sir Gar / Kidwelly), Tom Phillips Scarlets / Coleg Sir Gar / Llangennech), Jon Fox (Ospreys/ Gower College / Swansea), Jordan Viggers (Blues / St David's / St Peter's), Harrison Keddie (Dragons / Coleg Gwent / Caerleon), Matthew Marley (Blues /Coleg y Cymoedd/ Pentyrch), Joshua Macleod (Scarlets / Bro Gwaun / Crymych), Josh Cole (Ospreys / Neath Port Talbot College / Tonmawr)
Matthew Aubrey (Ospreys / Gower College/ Pontarddulais), Michael Hale (Blues / Glantaf / St Josephs), Carl Lewis (Blues / Coleg y Cymoedd/ Treorchy), Thomas Williams (Gogledd/ Rydal Penrhos / Newtown), Jarrod Evans (Blues / Coleg y Cymoedd / Pontypridd), Dan Jones (Scarlets / Coleg Sir Gar / Carmarthen Quins), Owen Watkin (Ospreys / Bridgend College / Bryncethin), Joe Gage (Ospreys/ Ystalyfera / Abercrave), James Whittingham (Blues / Cowbridge), Morgan Williams (Gogledd/ Coleg Llandrillo / Caernarfon), Rhys Gealley (Ospreys / YG Gwyr/Pontarddulais), Ellis-Wyn Benham (Blues/ Coleg y Cymoedd/ St Joseph's), Lloyd Lewis (Dragons / Ysgol Gwynllyw), Curtis Povey (Blues / Colg y Cymoedd / Ystrad Rhondda)
Wales Under 18 v England
Sunday 23 March, 1.45pm, The Gnoll, Neath
Tickets are £5 for adults and £3 for Under 16s, they will be available on matchday, or in advance by calling the Gnoll Ticket Office tel 01639 636585