Wales U20 head coach Richard Whiffin has named his squad to face Scotland in the opening game of the U20 Six Nations at Colwyn Bay on Friday (KO 6.45pm, LIVE S4C).
The side will be captained by Dragons RFC centre Harri Ackerman and will have eight players starting who will all be making their debuts. There are potentially six more players on the bench who could earn their first caps at this level.
Ackerman, along with midfield partner Louie Hennessey and No 8 Morgan Morse are only survivors from the starting XV who lost to Scotland last year in Glasgow.
“The boys have trained well for the last couple of weeks and the guys who have been selected to play have earned the right through their training and their regional performances. We’re now just excited to finish off the week and get up to North Wales and give it a crack,” said Whiffin.
He added there were some tight calls made selection-wise but he’s satisfied he has named a side that will be looking to get their campaign off to a winning start.
“The back three guys have really stood out and there’s been some challenging discussions around there – similarly the front row we’ve had lots of boys in and around camp and guys putting their hand up but like I say we were really happy with the depth that we’ve got in all positions and happy with the team we’ve selected.”
Wales U20s played two warm up games against Aberavon and Swansea University which gave Whiffin an insight to the standard of talent at his disposal.
“Our game against Aberavon was a great opportunity for a lot of younger players to play their first senior rugby – especially those tight five forwards. It was a good challenge for those guys and also having to come back from a deficit showed plenty of character and then the Swansea game gave me an opportunity to see the real depth in the squad.”
Whiffin is expecting a tough battle against Scotland as recent history has shown they are a tough nut to crack.
“You think about the game up there just before Christmas and obviously the one point game last Six Nations, I expect it to be very tight. They have a very good pack, their maul is pretty strong so I expect them to challenge us in that area.
“On top of that they’ve got some real good pace in those wider channels so I would imagine they are a team that is going to come down thinking they’ve got a good opportunity, and it will be a tough challenge for us but one that we walk towards.
“You look at how much momentum can be created from an early victory. It can set you up well for the rest of the championship and will build confidence in the group. That result on Friday is going to be massively important but we also want to produce a good performance in terms of what we’ve been practising for the last few weeks – we want to get out on the field and then hopefully that takes care of the result .”
Wales U20s v Scotland U20s – Stadiwm CSM, Friday 2 Feburary, KO 6.45pm
15 Huw Anderson (Dragons)*
14 Harry Rees-Weldon (Dragons RFC)*
13 Louie Hennessey (Bath Rugby)
12 Harri Ackerman (Dragons RFC – Capt)
11 Walker Price (Dragons RFC)*
10 Harri Wilde (Cardiff Rugby)
9 Ieuan Davies (Bath Rugby)*;
1 Jordan Morris (Dragons)*
2 Harry Thomas (Scarlets)*
3 Kian Hire (Ospreys)
4 Jonny Green (Harlequins)
5 Nick Thomas (Dragons)*
6 Osian Thomas (Leicester Tigers)*
7 Lucas de la Rua (Cardiff Rugby)
8 Morgan Morse (Ospreys)
16 Evan Wood (Cardiff Met)*
17 Freddie Chapman (Ospreys)
18 Sam Scott (Midlands Central)*
19 Owen Conquer (Ebbw Vale)*
20 Harri Beddall (Leicester Tigers)*
21 Rhodri Lewis (Ospreys)
22 Harri Ford (RGC)*
23 Macs Page (Scarlets)*
Wales U20s Six Nations schedule
Fri 2 Feb, Wales v Scotland – Stadium CSM, KO 6.45pm
Fri 9 Feb, England v Wales, Recreation Ground, KO 7.15pm
Fri 23 Feb, Ireland v Wales, Virgin Media Park, KO 7.15pm
Thurs 7 March, Wales v France, Cardiff Arms Park, 7.45pm
Fri 15th March, Wales v Italy, Cardiff Arms Park, 7.30pm