Wales head coach Gareth Williams has made seven changes, one positional, for the 5th-Place final against England in the World Rugby U20 Championship in Rosario, Argentina tomorrow. (KO 2.30pm BST/Live on S4C).
An injury to Max Llewellyn sees Dragons player Deon Smith move in to the centre alongside Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler with Tomi Lewis moving to the wing while Harri Morgan starts at half-back in front of Dafydd Buckland.
Rhys Davies and Nick English replace Kemsley Mathias and Ben Warren in the front row respectively while Ed Scragg comes in for Morgan Jones in the second row. Iestyn Rees has been rewarded with his fine form with a starting berth at blindside flanker ahead of Lennon Greggains, who is one of six Dragons amongst the replacements.
One of those reserves is centre Tom Hoppe who has been called up to the Wales match day squad and could become the ninth Dragon to feature at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Argentina, after Sam Costelow's tournament ended following a fractured jaw in the thrilling win against New Zealand on Monday.
Hoppe spent a spell in in New Zealand club rugby last summer, started in the Dragons' friendlies against Hong Kong and Russia last November, and was named in the Wales XV for the Six Nations opener against France in February.
“We have rotated the squad quite effectively over the tournament, some of it has been forced on us because of injuries, but we are comfortable in changing our combinations,” explained Williams.
“We’ve got Harri Morgan coming back in, he picked up a virus after the first game so he has been building back up and it’s quite unfortunate for Dafydd Buckland who has been amazing in the last three games. He was deservedly awarded the players’ player award in the last game against New Zealand and that’s a great credit to him. We are fortunate to half two quality halfbacks in the squad.”
Wales have also been boosted with the news Thomas-Wheeler will take his place in the midfield, after his one match suspension under the High Risk Contact Technique Warning trial in operation at the World Rugby U20 Championship, was over-turned.
“We went through the appeals process and it’s great Tiaan is on the park,” said Williams. He will go on to the Ospreys and will be a fantastic player for them moving into next season so hopefully he can sign off with us on a positive note.
“I can’t wait for the game against England. Winning games is our goal but we obviously balance the development aspect of things as well but beating New Zealand is a massive part of these players development.
“The performance was far from perfect but the result was huge for this group of players. Every time you take the field for Wales winning is a goal of ours and hopefully we will continue that but we know the type of quality England bring.
“They possess individuals who are very effective so we are really excited about the challenge ahead.”
U20 World Rugby Championship – 5th Place final
Wales U20 v England U20 Racecourse Stadium, Rosario 22 June, KO 2.30pm UK
15 Ioan Davies (Cardiff Blues)
14 Tomi Lewis (Scarlets)
13 Deon Smith (Dragons)
12 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler (Ospreys)
11 Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets)
10 Cai Evans (Ospreys)
9 Harri Morgan (Ospreys);
1 Rhys Davies (Ospreys)
2 Dewi Lake (Capt – Ospreys)
3 Nick English (Bristol Bears)
4 Ed Scragg (Dragons)
5 Jac Price (Scarlets)
6 Iestyn Rees (Scarlets)
7 Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers)
8 Jac Morgan (Aberavon/Scarlets)
Reserves: Garin Lloyd (Ospreys), Kemsley Mathias (Scarlets), Ben Warren (Cardiff Blues), Morgan Jones (Scarlets), Lennon Greggains (Dragons), Dafydd Buckland (Dragons), Rio Dyer (Dragons), Tom Hoppe (Dragons), Teddy Williams (Cardiff Blues), Tom Devine (Dragons) Ioan R Davies (Cardiff Blues), Will Griffiths (Dragons)