Wales Under 18 head coach Simon King has named his 26 man squad for the forthcoming Under 18 international games, which includes a place for Wales squad member Tom Prydie alongside four of his Ospreys team-mates.
The fixture list for King's youngsters begins with a trip to Melrose to face Scotland next Sunday and continues with England at Swansea RFC on Sunday 28 March. These matches form part of the Five Nations fixture list for the side and culminate in the Under 18 Five Nations festival which takes place in Wales this year over the Easter period. The hosts will face Ireland and Italy at Llandovery RFC on Friday 2nd and Saturday 10th April respectively (both at 2pm).
The coaching team delayed naming their final squad in order to watch players in action in the WRU Regional Under 18 final, the two Wales Under 18 training squad games against Leicester Academy and a trial game last weekend.
King said, "We feel we have more strength in depth than in recent years with three or four players pushing for places in a number of positions. Our aim is to develop as many players as possible to the best of their ability so it's great to see so many players stepping up to the next level - 19 of the Wales Under 20 squad that face France were capped at Under 18 level."
Prydie is a travelling reserve for Warren Gatland's Wales squad in Ireland this weekend, along with forwards Ken Owens and Dan Lydiate. Prydie could be called into the match day 22 should any back sustain an injury during tomorrow's captain's run or Saturday's pre-match warm up.
King added: "Tom's experience as part of the Wales squad will have benefitted his development greatly, but it will also act as a great carrot for the rest of the Under 18 squad who can see that if they work hard and perform well, they will have the same opportunity. Tom has a huge amount of potential, he's a great physical specimen and I'm sure will be looking forward to playing for Wales Under 18 in our Five Nations campaign.
"We have enjoyed a good period of preparation so far. A number of our squad players were involved with us last season and for the game against Australian Schools XV in December which was a great test for us. We had two very competitive games against an older Leicester Academy XV over the past month and the Regional Under 18 Championship once again provided an excellent opportunity for the best players in the Regions to develop and put their hands up for selection.
"It's important we start well against Scotland. They are always a big, strong side, they will have a lot of support in Melrose and whilst we beat them at the Five Nations festival last season, it was a tough match. Next up is England who are always the yardstick at this age group. In the last four seasons, they have toured New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina so they are continually raising the bar in the northern hemisphere. It will be great to be at home for the Five Nations this season. We had some fantastic support in Colwyn Bay for the Australian match in December and hopefully the Welsh rugby public will come to Llandovery at Easter for some great double headers."
Wales Under 18 Five Nations squad:
Backs: Tom Prydie (Ospreys), Harley Thompson (Blues), Harry Robinson (Blues), George North (Scarlets), Luke Williams (Scarlets), Leighton Bellamore (Dragons), Sam Campbell (Blues), Eli Walker (Ospreys), Matthew Morgan (Ospreys), Joseff Griffin (Blues), Tom Habberfield (Ospreys), Jonathan Evans (Dragons)
Forwards: Rob Evans (Scarlets), Darran Harris (Blues), Will Griff John (Blues), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Kirby Myhill (Scarlets), Jack Dando (Blues), Cory Hill (Blues), Matthew Screech (Blues), Luke Hamilton (Scarlets), Ellis Jenkins (Blues), Callum Thomas (Blues), Thomas Young (Blues), Dan Baker (Ospreys), Owen Sheppeard (Blues)
Wales Under 18 fixtures 2010
Scotland (Melrose RFC) Sunday, 21 March 3pm
England (St. Helens, Swansea) Sunday, 28th March 2pm
Under 18 Five Nations festival, Llandovery RFC, April 2 - 10
Friday 2 April
Wales v Ireland 2pm
Scotland v England 4pm
Tuesday 6 April
England v Ireland 2pm
Scotland v Italy 4pm
Saturday 10 April
Wales v Italy 2pm
Scotland v Ireland 4pm