Rob Howley reckons the five uncapped players can make their mark
Rob Howley is confident Wales' uncapped quintet can make an impact during the RBS 6 Nations.
The interim head coach has handed call-ups to James King, Andrew Coombs, Josh Navidi, Andries Pretorius and Eli Walker ahead of the Championship defence.
Howley has been impressed by the players' regional form over a hectic festive period and reckons they can shine on the international stage.
"We have rewarded performances over the Christmas period and the Heineken Cup," said Howley.
"We welcome James, who has played very well against Toulouse and Leicester, and Andrew Coombs.
"We have kept an eye on him for the last six months and he has always been on our radar. Robin McBryde has spoken at length with Darren Edwards and Rob Appleyard. He will offer experience and maturity and can play four or five.
"Josh Navidi has played in the back row with Sam Warburton; we see him as a 7 rather than 6; he is in form and will add to the competition in the back row with Andre Pretorius, who is now qualified to play for Wales.
"He is dynamic, brings a bit of X factor and leadership, a key area from the autumn series. There is more to come from him and he is flexible. The key ingredient in our squad is competition for places and he will play a part in that.
"In the back line, Eli Walker is the in-form winger in the UK at this moment. He has performed very well, in particular against Leicester at the weekend."
Many of the changes have come as a consequence of injuries, with Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones and Bradley Davies set to miss some, if not all, of the Championship.
But Howley insists Wales can cope with the losses and has backed his youngsters to fill the void.
"The injuries have been talked about but I want to focus on the team going forward," said Howley.
"We have always believed in talent and it flourishing in our national environment. That will not change as the likes of King, Navidi and Walker show.
"You can look at this issue with your cup half full or half empty. It has always been half full as far as I am concerned and this is an opportunity for talent to flourish.
"There will always be injuries in rugby and we are no different to England, Ireland and Scotland.
"We asked who would replace Martyn Williams - Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric jump up. Who would replace Tom Shanklin? Jon Davies jumps up. Who would replace Shane Williams? George North jumps up.
"We have talent and will use it. I'm sure we will unearth another gem in this Six Nations."
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.