Phillips said: "It is an honour to coach a Welsh national team and having played international rugby at this level, I know what it is all about. It's a very exciting time in a player's development and it is the bridge between junior and senior rugby and can be an all-important period."
The changes in the season for the Wales U18 age group means that this year, the Reebok Regional U18 Championship has been held over the first part of the season with the final taking place on Friday 6th January 2006 (postponed from last Friday December 30th 2005).
This has provided a platform for identification and selection of the national squad which will now meet for national squad training twice a week for six weeks before some warm-up games against regional sides from England and France, two internationals against Italy and France and culminating in the Home Four Nations Championship in the Gloucester area in April.
WRU High Performance Manager Mostyn Richards said: "We have worked extremely hard to get to this stage where we have created a progressive seasonal structure for our young international players. The Reebok Regional Championship provides us with the perfect vehicle for identification and selection while the long training and development period will be the envy of many national squads in Wales and beyond.
"For the first time, the players will have the chance to build together as a team and will have the best possible chance of playing to their potential by the time they reach the competitive end of the season, the U18 Home Four Nations Championship, held this year in England."
Phillips will be eager to watch a number of his new recruits in competitive action this Friday when the Ospreys take on the Scarlets in the postponed U18 final of the Reebok Regional Championship, to be held at Aberavon at 7pm.
"The final will be a great showcase for the talent within the squad and having already watched some of the Reebok games, I have been hugely impressed with the standard of play," added Phillips. "I will get to know the players in more depth through the twice weekly training sessions over the next six weeks which is fantastic and unheard of for a national squad set-up on these shores. It is an elite structure for an elite set of players."
Mostyn Richards added: "We are thrilled that a vibrant young coach like Rowland is on board and heading up our Wales U18 coaching team. Already, after only a short time he has proved his coaching pedigree with Neath and it is great that yet another individual, only recently retired from playing at the highest level is putting something straight back into the elite game."
The Wales U18 squad includes the likes of Luke Ford, son of former Wales wing Steve and Holotti Molitika, son of Tongan flanker Ma'ama.
Terry Cobner, Wales U18 Team Manager said: "We are delighted that six players, currently available for U18 rugby have been elevated to the Wales U19 set up. This provides new opportunities for boys in the U18 age group and will aid the rugby development of these players. I am confident that with the system now in place we can build on the success achieved last season."
Wales U18 Squad
Backs: Nick Hopson (Ospreys), Leigh Halfpenny (Ospreys), Ceri Llewellyn (Blues), James Egan (Blues), Gruff Jones (Scarlets), Matthew Lemon (Scarlets), Rhys Williams (Scarlets), Luke Ford (Blues), Jason Tovey (Dragons), Phil Williams (Blues), Geraint O'Driscoll (Dragons / Exiles), David Langdon (Dragons), James Thomas (Blues), Rhys Dyer (Blues), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Gareth Williams (Blues)
Forwards: Jon Jones (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Blues), Jack Shaw (Ospreys), Nick Cudd (Scarlets), Jevon Groves (Blues), Haloti Molitika (Ospreys), Kyle Maiden (Ospreys), Haydn Pugh (Scarlets), Josh Williams (Dragons), Adam Ball (Scarlets), James Richards (Ospreys), Patrick Palmer (Blues), Scott Andrews (Blues), Huw Dowden (Blues), Ben Roberts (Dragons), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Tom Price (Blues)
Wales U18 Fixtures 2006
Sunday February 26th - Wales Regions v French Regions venue tbc
Sunday March 5th - Wales Regions v English Regions venue tbc
Sunday March 12th - Italy v Wales Coleferro, Italy, Kick-off 3pm
Friday March 31st - Wales v France, Pontypridd, kick-off 7pm
Saturday April 15th - Home Four Nations - Wales v Scotland, Cheltenham, 3.35pm
Tuesday April 18th - Home Four Nations - Wales v Ireland, Lydney, 4pm
Friday April 21st - Home Four Nations - England v Wales, Gloucester, 3.35pm