The game will be the first of five Tests played under the IRB sanctioned age category of 1 January, 2005, while there will also be four games using the slightly older 1 September, 2004 age limit. Wales Under 18 head coach Kevin George has included 10 players in his 22 who are attached to the Dragons academy.
Rhys Jones and Robert Lewis form an all-Gwent half-back partnership, while fellow Dragons Ashley Smith and Jimmy Norris will also start behind the scrum. Jamie Corsi, Ben Flower and Lewis Evans feature in the pack while Gwesyn Price-Jones, Adam Brown and Gareth Maule will have seats on the bench. Also in the starting line-up are Will Harries and Bryn Jenkins, who came through the Dragons' Regional Identification Process at the start of the season as Exiles before returning to their schools in England.
"Competition for places in the team has been stiff and selection has been largely based on performance in the WRU Reebok Regional Championship," said George. "The competition has provided the prefect bridge between schoolboy and youth rugby and the international stage and has allowed the management team to observe players playing in a highly competitive environment.
"Hugh has proved himself to be a very strong and dynamic leader with the Scarlets and will captain a Welsh side that has a very powerful and mobile pack. We also have a mature half-back partnership in Rhys Jones and Robert Lewis.
"We will be reviewing our squad after the Italy game and once again we will be basing our selection on performances in the Reebok Regional Championship.
"Everyone connected with the side, both management and players, are lookingforward to this historic first game and our preparations have gone exceptionally well."
Former WRU director of rugby Terry Cobner is team manager of the side and Scarlets Academy manager George has Ian Gardner and Paul John as his assistant coaches. Wayne Jones is an attached coach to the side while Ron Shottle is the coaching co-ordinator for the age group.
WALES UNDER 18 (v Italy Under 18 at The Gnoll 06 January 2005 7pm)
Martin Thomas (Scarlets/Tre-gib School/ Llandeilo RFC); Will Harries (Exiles/Millfield School), Alex Wilkins (Ospreys/Bishop Gore School/Mumbles RFC), Ashley Smith(Dragons/CaerleonSchool/Newport HSOB RFC), Jimmy Norris (Dragons/Bettws School/ Newport HSOB RFC); Rhys Jones (Dragons/Cwmcarn School/Newport RFC), Robert Lewis (Dragons/Hereford Cathedral School/Newport RFC); Hugh Gustafson (Scarlets/Coleg Sir Gar/Pontyberem RFC, CAPTAIN), Marc Jones (Blues/Pencoed School/Treorchy RFC), Jamie Corsi (Dragons/Bassaleg School/Newport RFC), Bryn Jenkins (Exiles/Ivybridge School/Liskeard-Looe RFC), Josh Turnbull (Scarlets/Ysgol Gyfun Emlyn/Newcastle Emlyn RFC), Lloyd Phillips (Scarlets/Coleg Sir Gar/Narberth RFC), Ben Flower (Dragons/St Cenydd School/Newport RFC), Lewis Evans (Dragons/St Joseph's School/Newport HSOB RFC)
Replacements: Mark Breeze (Ospreys/Neath College/Aberavon Quins RFC), Gwesyn Price-Jones (Dragons/Ysgol Gwyn Llyw/Newport RFC), Adam Brown (Dragons/Bassaleg School/ Pontypool Utd RFC), Matthew Larson (Blues/Tonyrefail School/Treorchy RFC), Darren Allinson (Scarlets/Ysgol y Gwendraeth/Pontyberem RFC), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets/Bro Myrddin School/Carmarthen Ath RFC), Gareth Maule (Dragons/St Alban's School/NewportRFC) NB: Players are credited with Regional, School and Club representation.
WALES UNDER 18 FIXTURES 2005
(January 1 age category)
06 January: Wales v Italy (The Gnoll, Neath)
13 March: England v Wales (Clifton)
Home Four Nations Championship
26 March: Wales v Ireland (Eugene Cross Park, Ebbw Vale)
29 March: Wales v England (Broadacre, Dunvant)
01 April: Wales v Scotland (Sardis Road, Pontypridd)
(September 1 age category)
12 February France v Wales (Foix)
13 March: England v Wales (Clifton)
02 April: Wales v Ireland (Pontypool Park)
09 April: Wales v England (The Gnoll, Neath)