Five Dragons have been named in the matchday squad as Wales Under-20s face Italy at Zipworld Stadium on Friday evening (kick-off 7.35pm, live on S4C).
Centre Aneurin Owen, wing Ewan Rosser, scrum half Dafydd Buckland and lock Ben Carter all start the game in North Wales while hooker Will Griffiths is named among the replacements.
Scarlets back row Jac Morgan will captain the team and will be able to call upon the experience of regional teammate Jac Price who packs down in the second row while Cardiff Blues prop Ben Warren also returns.
Blues’ back row Ioan Davies has the opportunity to cement his spot after battling behind the likes of Morgan, Tommy Reffell and Taine Basham last season.
A settled halfback pairing of Buckland and Sam Costelow alongside centre Owen gives Wales U20 head coach Gareth Williams plenty of experience behind the scrum.
“The returning boys gives us a good nucleus to work from and provides us a good spine throughout the side,” said Williams.
“It’s good to have that sort of experience going into a campaign and I know those players are ready to take on the mantle of being a senior player in what I think is an exciting squad.
“It’s great to have a group of returning players, while also blooding new players as we build towards the Junior World Cup later in the year.
“As I’ve said before, last year was my first year as head coach of this age group and we all thoroughly enjoyed the experience of playing England and Ireland at Zipworld Stadium in front of a passionate crowd in Colwyn Bay.
“We can’t wait to kick off our Six Nations campaign, and are excited to get back up to North Wales where our home support has been outstanding over the years. We really enjoy playing in Colwyn Bay.
“We’ve had a good period of player identification and skill development. But it’s always good to have a competitive element to our development programme.
“Italy will be a stern challenge, and we know we are going to face a difficult night. Italy played some good rugby in last year’s World Cup, and their Under-18s were outstanding against our boys in their win in Gloucester last season. So our preparation and performance needs to be of a high standard.”
Wales Under-20 vs Italy Under-20s:
15 Josh Thomas (Ospreys)
14 Dan John (Millfield School)
13 Osian Knott (Scarlets)
12 Aneurin Owen (Dragons)
11 Ewan Rosser (Dragons)
10 Sam Costelow (Leicester Tigers)
9 Dafydd Buckland (Dragons)
1 Callum Williams (Scarlets)
2 Dom Booth (Scarlets)
3 Ben Warren (Cardiff Blues)
4 Jac Price (Scarlets)
5 Ben Carter (Dragons)
6 Ioan Davies (Cardiff Blues)
7 Jac Morgan (Scarlets – CAPT)
8 Morgan Strong (Ospreys)
16 Will Griffiths (Dragons)
17 Theo Bevacqua (Cardiff Blues)
18 Archie Griffin (Bath Rugby)
19 James Fender (Ospreys)
20 Travis Huntley (Ospreys)
21 Ellis Bevan (Cardiff Met)
22 Luke Scully (Worcester)
23 Bradley Roderick (Ospreys)
It’s great to have a group of returning players, while also blooding new players as we build towards the Junior World Cup later in the year...