Wales open their defence of the Six-Nations Under-21 Championship by
introducing ten new caps in the starting lineup to meet Scotland at
Bridgend on Friday (2.00pm).
Coach Chris Davey is without several players through injury and the backs
have only Matthew Nuthall remaining from last season's squad. However,
there will be great aerial power from 6'10' Luke Charteris and the 6'8' Ian
Evans, while hooker Huw Bennett will start, only if he is not required by
the senior squad.
Unavailable through injury are David Bishop, Richard Fussell and Gareth
McCarthy in the backs and No 8 James Malpas, who has hurt a shoulder.
Francesco Brillante, the 19-years-old Cardiff wing, gets an unexpected
call-up and big John Yapp, who was on the bench once last season, is
available at loose-head prop.
'We have not had such a big roll-over as last season,' said Davey. 'A couple
of experienced players are now over-age, but there is lots of talent in the
'Last season Scotland gave us a tough physical match, but we did not let
them score a try. We expect the same and they can be difficult to play
against. It will be a hard season and we must just take it as it comes.'
Team (*denotes new cap): 15 Matthew Nuthall (Pontypridd); 14 *Ifan Evans
(Llandovery), 13 *Richard Payne (Newport), 12*Lee Thomas (Celtic Warriors),
11*Francesco Brillante (Cardiff); 10*Scott Macleod (Cardiff Blues),
9*Rhodri Wells (Swansea); 1*John Yapp (Cardiff Blues), 2 Kieran Crawford
(The Dragons) or Huw Bennett (Ospreys), 3*Cai Griffiths (Neath), 4*Ian
Evans (Pontypridd), 5 Luke Charteris (The Dragons), 6 James Merriman
(Gloucester), 7 Richie Pugh (Ospreys, capt), 8*Richard Dale (Newport).
Replacements: *David Maddocks (Llanelli Scarlets), K Crawford or *Will Kay (Newcastle Falcons), *Nathan Williams (Llanelli Scarlets), *Jonathan Mills
(Bath), *Matthew Jones (Ospreys), *Richard Rees (Swansea), *Gavin Evans
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.