Watkin returns to Wales U20 duty

Ospreys centre Owen Watkin returns to the Wales U20 side this weekend, one of five Eyasses in the 23 to face England at Ashton Gate on Friday night.

  • Keelan Giles, Owen Watkin, Reuben Morgan Williams and Adam Beard to start against England, Joe Thomas named on the bench
  • Wales are top of the U20 Six Nations with three wins from three
  • After England, Wales finish against Italy at Parc Eirias next week

Head coach Jason Strange has made three changes, one positional to his unbeaten team.

Watkin and Scarlets outside half Dan Jones return to the side after fulfilling regional duties since the win against Ireland in the opening round of the Championship, with Harri Millard moving from inside to outside centre.

The Bridgend youngster has featured in seven of the last nine Ospreys fixtures, with lock Adam Beard, named in the second row for Friday night, having featured three times for the region since the end of January.

Exciting 18-year old backs, Keelan Giles and Reuben Morgan-Williams, also start, with a fourth back, Joe Thomas, on the bench.

Strange said: “There is a lot of competition in the squad, and a fantastic team spirit due to the standards and expectations the players have set for themselves. I can’t speak highly enough of the way they’ve performed to date and it’s important they enjoy the occasion on Friday.

“While some players have had time with their regions, it’s great that we have been able to expose other players to this level of international rugby and we are pleased to be able to select a side which has a nice blend of youth and experience for this game.”

Wales are currently top of the Under 20 Six Nations table, having come back from behind to beat Ireland 35-24 and Scotland 18-15 and with a 16-10 win over France in Colwyn Bay in the last round. However, Strange is keen to emphasise the extent of the task ahead on Friday.

“England are well coached, they have some fantastic individual players. Although they’ve lost twice, this is likely to be our toughest challenge to date.

"Even though we are delighted with our previous games, we are certainly not getting carried away – we understand we've got a lot of improvement left in us as a group which is fantastic when you look ahead at the World Rugby U20 Championship in Manchester in June.

“Our main goal is continuous improvement individually and as a team, to give ourselves a good chance of ending the championship on a high by adhering to our identity - hard work, structure and creativity. Ashton Gate is a fantastic stadium, there should be a great crowd and it’s important we get the best out of the players individually and collectively on Friday night.”

Wales team v England (Friday 11 March, 7.45pm, Sky Sports):

Rhun Williams (RGC); George Gasson (Dragons), Harri Millard (Cardiff Blues), Owen Watkin (Ospreys), Keelan Giles (Ospreys); Daniel Jones (Scarlets), Reuben Morgan-Williams (Ospreys); Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Blues), Dafydd Hughes (Scarlets), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues), Shane Lewis-Hughes (Cardiff Blues), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Tom Phillips (captain, Scarlets), Shaun Evans (Scarlets), Harrison Keddie (Newport Gwent Dragons)


Replacements: Ifan Phillips (Scarlets), Rhys Fawcett (Scarlets), Leon Brown (Newport Gwent Dragons), Bryce Morgan (Newport Gwent  Dragons), Morgan Sieniawski (Cardiff Blues), Declan Smith (Scarlets), Billy McBryde (Scarlets), Joe Thomas (Ospreys) 

Following Friday night’s match, Wales return to Parc Eirias for their final U20 Championship match of the season, against Italy on Friday 18 March, 7.05pm.


Wales Under Six Nations fixtures: 

Ireland U20 24-35 Wales U20 Friday 5 February, Donnybrook

Wales U20 18-15 Scotland Friday 12 February, Parc Eirias

Wales U20 16-10 France Saturday 27 February, Parc Eirias

England U20 v Wales Friday 11 March Ashton Gate (7.45pm)

Wales U20 v Italy Friday 18 March, Parc Eirias (7.05pm)