Wales Under 20 head coach Darren Edwards has named a young 28-man squad to compete in the forthcoming Under 20 Six Nations.
Ten players have experienced professional Regional rugby this season but only eight players picked have already been capped at Under 20 level – Blues pair Owen Williams and Macauley Cook, Scarlets duo Steve Shingler and Rhodri Jones, Ospreys forwards Will Taylor and Ben Thomas, Cardiff hooker Ieuan Davies and Pontypridd flanker Ed Siggery.
Edwards said: “It’s a young side, with few experienced players from last season’s Under 20 campaign. We have also called Harry Robinson up from the Wales Under 18 set-up having impressed for the Blues Under 18s this season.
“We are building towards the Junior World Championship and our first game, a tough challenge against England will certainly give us a benchmark to gauge where we are. England will be well-prepared, they have the likes of Owen Farrell, Manu Tuilagi and George Ford in their ranks, and the majority of their squad has moved up as a unit from the most successful England Under 18 side in history.
“There are some players currently unavailable to us through injury such as Thomas Young, Lloyd Peers, Ben John and Dale Ford but there will be no guaranteed right to step back into the squad when they regain fitness, there will be no comfort zones. Players may be out of action but our aim is to develop future Regional and international players so the situation gives others opportunities.
“We are treating this group of players as we would a professional team. We will follow a two-day on, one-day off training schedule from now on. Time is tight so we will be focussing on the basic principles and key aspects of the game which we will judge ourselves on and we’ll go from there.
“Some of the squad players have broken into the international set-up for the first time after impressing in the Principality Premiership this season – the likes of Rheon James and Adam Warren in the backline and Sam Parry who, along with Kirby Myhill has converted from back row to hooker in order that our best young players create the most viable rugby pathways for themselves.
“We have some great competition at half back with Steve Shingler and Matthew Morgan at 10, and Aled Davies and Jonathan Evans at 9, all of whom have had senior Regional game time this season.
“The fact that we have eight Pontypridd players is a testament to both the club and the Blues set-up – Pontypridd have always done a great job of developing players and they continue to do so.
“It’s great to be playing our home games at Parc y Scarlets. Our training facilities are first class at the National Centre of Excellence and it is only right that these young players also get to play in a professional arena to give them the best possible opportunities to succeed.”
Backs: Liam Wililams (Llanelli), Harry Robinson (Blues), Eli Walker (Ospreys / Swansea), Jack Gadd (Bristol Rugby), Owen Williams (Blues / Cardiff), Rheon James (Scarlets / Carmarthen Quins), Adam Warren (Llandovery), Steve Shingler (Scarlets / Llanelli), Matthew Morgan (Ospreys / Swansea), Lewis Jones (Pontypridd), Jonathan Evans (Dragons / Newport), Aled Davies (Scarlets / Llanelli)
Forwards: Rhodri Jones (Scarlets / Llanelli), Rob Evans (Scarlets / Carmarthen Quins), Lewis Smout (Blues / Pontypridd), Will Taylor (Ospreys / Swansea), Will Griff John (Blues / Pontypridd), Kirby Myhill (Scarlets / Llanelli), Sam Parry (Llandovery), Ieuan Davies (Cardiff), Cory Hill (Blues / Pontypridd), Macauley Cook (Blues / Cardiff), Matthew Screech (Blues / Pontypridd), Luke Hamilton (Blues / Glamorgan Wanderers), Edward Siggery (Pontypridd), Calum Thomas (Blues / Pontypridd), Ben Thomas (Ospreys / Bridgend), Owen Sheppeard (Blues / Pontypridd)
Wales Under 20 Six Nations fixtures 2011
Wales v England - Saturday 5 Feb - 18.30 - Parc y Scarlets
Scotland v Wales - Friday 11 Feb - 19.10 - Sterling
Italy v Wales - Friday 25 Feb - 19.00 - Cosenza
Wales v Ireland - Friday 11 March - 19.10 - Parc y Scarlets
France v Wales - Friday 18 March - 20.30 - Albi
Tickets for Wales’ home games at Parc y Scarlets are just £10 for adults and £5 for Under 16s and are available now from the Parc y Scarlets ticket office (tel / 0871 871 8088 / www.scarlets.co.uk ) and from Ticketmaster tel 08442 777 888 / www.ticketmaster.co.uk'