Young Ospreys open side flanker, Will Jones, has been named captain of the national U20 side for this weekend’s U20 Six Nations opener against Italy in Milan.
The former Ospreys U16 and U18 captain, from Penclawdd RFC and Gowerton Comprehensive School, captained Wales U18 in 2016 and will win his first U20 cap on Friday night.
He is joined in the match day squad by three regional colleagues fresh from British & Irish Cup duty. Centre Kieran Williams scored five tries in six games in this season's competition, Phil Jones, who can play at 10 or 15, scored 18 points, including two tries, for the Premiership Select, along with second row, Jack Pope, who featured four times.
In total, twenty players could make their international debuts for Wales U20 this Friday night in Milan’s Stadio Giovanni Mari (18:00 GMT), as head coach Jason Strange names his team for their U20 Six Nations opener.
Only three of Strange’s matchday squad have previously featured for Wales U20. They are: Newport Gwent Dragons wing Jared Rosser, who was in exemplary form for Wales Sevens in Dubai and Cape Town earlier this season; Cardiff Blues tighthead Keiron Assiratti, who made a cameo in the 2016 World Rugby U20 Championship; and Blues blindside Morgan Sieniawski, a member of last season’s Grand Slam-winning squad.
“Usually, in your first U20 Six Nations game you’d expect ten or twelve new caps, but we’ve got a particularly young group this year, several of whom will be available next year which makes this Friday a good opportunity to start exposing them to international rugby,” explains Strange.
“We know Italy will pose a real challenge, especially at home, but we’re focusing on producing a strong team performance to start the campaign.”
The prospect of almost an entire squad gaining their first cap at this level means there is a heightened sense of anticipation in camp, according to Strange: “They’re tremendously excited about representing their country. It’s a huge honour, which has been reflected in the intensity of their approach to training since coming into camp.”
The following players are unavailable for selection this weekend: Shane Lewis-Hughes, Callum Bradbury, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Arwel Robson, Tom Mably (all injured), James Ratti, Rhun Williams (both regional commitments), James Botham, Owen Lane (both Wales Sevens).
Tickets for the Wales U20 matches at Parc Eirias against England next Friday and Ireland (Saturday 11th March) are now available, with tickets already selling fast.
Italy U20 v Wales U20 will be shown live on S4C’s Clwb Rygbi.
Wales U20 team to face Italy U20
15 Will Talbot-Davies (Newport Gwent Dragons) 14 Jared Rosser (Newport Gwent Dragons) 13 Ioan Nicholas (Scarlets) 12 Kieran Williams (Ospreys) 11 Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets) 10 Ben Jones (Cardiff Blues) 9 Dane Blacker (Cardiff Blues) 1 Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues) 2 Ellis Shipp (Newport Gwent Dragons) 3 Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff Blues) 4 Alex Dombrandt (Cardiff Blues) 5 Max Williams (Newport Gwent Dragons) 6 Morgan Sieniawski (Cardiff Blues) 7 Will Jones (c) (Ospreys) 8 Morgan Morris (Gloucester)
16 Corrie Tarrant (Cardiff Blues) 17 Steff Thomas (Scarlets) 18 Chris Coleman (Newport Gwent Dragons) 19 Jack Pope (Ospreys) 20 Aled Ward (Cardiff Blues) 21 Declan Smith (Scarlets) 22 Phil Jones (Ospreys) 23 Cameron Lewis (Cardiff Blues)