Five Young Ospreys have been named in the Wales U20 squad for the forthcoming IRB Junior World Championship in Italy.
Wing Eli Walker, fly-half Matthew Morgan, prop Will Taylor, second row Lloyd Peers and flanker Ben Thomas have all been named in the 26 man squad by Head Coach Richard Webster, with centre Ben John, who recently signed his first pro contract with the Ospreys, missing out with a wrist injury.
There are two further Eyasses on standby – Full back Ross Jones who returned to Wales last summer when the Ospreys signed him from Leinster, and scrum-half Matthew Torrance, born and raised in Durban, South Africa with a Welsh mother, who arrived in Ospreylia at the start of this year.
Webster has taken over from Darren Edwards for the Junior World Championship campaign following Edwards’ recent appointment as Newport Gwent Dragons head coach.
“As a management team, it was a hard job to narrow down the squad to 26. The team played so well during the Six Nations – they did everything that was asked of them – and it was always going to be hard to leave some players out. We had to look at versatility, especially in the backline, and that, along with some impressive recent performances helped Iolo Evans, Dale Ford and Lewis Robling to secure three of the final places.
“With five matches in sixteen days, it is important to have the right mix within the group. The players showed their character throughout the Six Nations on and off the field, and I’m sure that will help them in the testing environment of an international competition.
“We know we will be tested physically against all three of our Pool opponents – Argentina, New Zealand and Italy. However, we have fronted up in that respect against both England and France this season and we have no qualms in that respect. However, our intention is to go out there and play rugby. The grounds will be hard and we will need to move the ball around and score some tries if we are to progress to the upper end of the positions at the end of the competition.
“Argentina is a key game first up. They will no doubt have a physical pack and a big scrum mentality but hopefully we can move them about and get some points on the board ahead of the New Zealand game. Against France and England, we showed we had the ability to compete, just falling short of winning those games, but we will certainly have to step up our game again against New Zealand – it’s important we get something out of that game. Then we have Italy who we beat in the Six Nations away from home, but they will be keen to do well as tournament hosts.
“We have two or three sessions a week together now until we leave on June 6 and with the Principality Premiership play-offs, some players won’t get a break, but we are looking forward to getting re-acquainted with the boys and getting to know the new players.”
Wales Under 20 Junior World Championship squad:
Backs: Liam Williams (Llanelli), Harry Robinson (Blues/ Cardiff), Eli Walker (Ospreys / Swansea), Dale Ford (Scarlets/ Llanelli), Owen Williams (Blues / Cardiff), Adam Warren (Llandovery), Iolo Evans (Scarlets/ Llanelli) Steve Shingler (Scarlets / Llanelli), Matthew Morgan (Ospreys / Swansea), Lewis Robling (Dragons/ Newport), Lewis Jones (Blues/ Pontypridd), Jonathan Evans (Dragons / Newport)
Forwards: Rhodri Jones (Scarlets / Llanelli), Lewis Smout (Blues / Pontypridd), Will Taylor (Ospreys / Swansea), WillGriff John (Blues / Pontypridd), Kirby Myhill (Scarlets / Llanelli), Sam Parry (Llandovery), Cory Hill (Blues / Pontypridd), Macauley Cook (Blues / Cardiff), Luke Hamilton (Blues / Glamorgan Wanderers), Lloyd Peers (Ospreys / Bridgend), Edward Siggery (Pontypridd), Thomas Young (Blues / Cardiff), Ben Thomas (Ospreys / Bridgend), Owen Sheppeard (Blues / Pontypridd)
Standby players: Trystan Davies (Scarlets /Carmarthen Quins), Ieuan Davies (Cardiff), Matthew Screech (Blues / Pontypridd), Calum Thomas (Blues / Pontypridd), Matthew Torrance (Ospreys / Tonmawr), Joseff Griffin (Blues / Cardiff), Rheon James (Scarlets / Carmarthen Quins), Ross Jones (Ospreys / Bridgend)
Wales in Junior World Championship action:
Wales v Argentina Friday 10 June 18.10 Stadio del Plebiscito, Padua
Wales v New Zealand Tuesday 14 June 18.10 Stadio Mario Battaglini, Rovigo
Italy v Wales Saturday 18 June 18.10 Stadio Communale di Monigo, Treviso
Play-Off dates: Wednesday 22 June; Sunday 26 June