Ospreys full back Dylan Moss is just one of two survivors from last year’s Wales U18 summer tour squad this time around, and he starts against South African Schools on Friday, 1 of 6 Eyasses involved.
“We all know that playing any South African team in South Africa is one of the biggest physical challenges there is in world rugby. They pride themselves on their power up front and this will be an amazing challenge for the Welsh players,” said coach Geraint Lewis ahead of the first of three test matches.
“But elite sport is all about pitting yourself against the best and that’s exactly what we’ve got over our three games here – South Africa, England and France. It is a chance for our players to front up against the biggest rugby nations in the world and see how they measure up.
“It is a magnificent opportunity for them and we’ve had a couple of great days training out here in preparation. We beat a South African team out here for the first time last year and we’d love to build on that.
“This tournament is all about developing players for the next level of their careers. The bulk of this squad will move into the Under 20s in the coming season and this trip is all about preparing them for the 2018 Six Nations and the Junior World Cup.”
There were nine players on this summer’s Wales tour to New Zealand and Samoa who had played on the Under 18 tours to South Africa in the past and Lewis is hoping to uncover a few more future internationals on this trip.
Moss and Blues centre Ben Thomas are the only survivors from last year’s squad, but the bulk of the team played in the win over England at Ebbw Vale earlier in the year. There are a few players missing through injury, but Lewis isn’t worried about his playing strength.
Golden Lions No 8 Travis Gordon will lead the South African and centre Rikus Pretorius and wing Muller du Plessis are returning for a second year. In line with the competition rules, South Africa have opted to name 13 replacements, although only eight will be allowed to take to the field. The sides will be allowed rolling substitutions, which will be limited to 12 rotations.
England will face France in the first match at 2.15pm with the Wales game following at 4.00pm (3.00pm BST). All of Wales' games will be streamed live on the S4C Chwaraeon Facebook page.
Wales U18: Dylan Moss (Ospreys); Tomi Lewis (Scarlets), Tom Hoppe (Dragons), Ben Thomas (Blues), Dewi Cross (Ospreys); Cai Evans (Ospreys), Harri Morgan (Ospreys); Rhys Davies (Scarlets), Will Griffiths (Dragons), Ben Warren (Blues), Joe Miles (Blues), Morgan Jones (Scarlets), Tom Reffell (Leicester), Dan Davies (Scarlets), Len Greggains (Dragons)
Replacements: Morgan Nelson (Gloucester), Jordan Walters (Ospreys), Josh Reynolds (Dragons), Lewis Ellis-Jones (Scarlets), Ben Fry (Hartpury College), Taine Basham (Dragons), Callum Carson (Ospreys), Scott Lloyd (Scarlets), Tom Rogers (Scarlets)
South African Schools: Kennedy Mpeku (Golden Lions / KES); Qamani Kota (Griffons / Welkom Gimnasium), Diego Appollis (Blue Bulls / Garsfontein), Rikus Pretorius (Free State / Grey College), Muller du Plessis (Western Province / Paarl Gymnasium); Chris Schreuder (Free State / Grey College), Sanele Nohamba (Sharks / Durban HS); Nkosikhona Masuku (Golden Lions/ Parktown Boys High), Ruhann Greyling (Free State / Grey College) , Keagan Glade (Golden Lions / KES), Juan van der Mescht (Sharks / Glenwood), Cristen van Niekerk (Golden Lions / Monument), Vian Fourie (Western Province / Paarl Boys High), Phendulani Buthelezi (Sharks / Durban HS), Travis Gordon (Golden Lions / KES, Captain)
Replacements: Fezokuhle Mbatha (Sharks / Maritzburg College), Jordan Clarke (Sharks / Glenwood), Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Golden Lions / St Stithians), Celimpilo Gumede (Sharks / Durban HS), Adrian Alberts (Western Province / Paarl Boys High), Mark Snyman (Golden Lions/ Helpmekaar), Dylan Richardson (Sharks / Kearsney), Henco Martins (Western Province / Paarl Gymnasium), Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks / Glenwood), Yanga Hlalu (Golden Lions / KES), Conan Le Fleur (Sharks / Glenwood), Morne Brandon (Golden Lions / Monument), Banele Mthenjane (Pumas / Nelspruit)