Steffan Hughes has targeted a semi-final spot in New Zealand
Wales U20s captain Steffan Hughes can feel the excitement building with the Junior World Championships under two weeks away.
The 28-man squad fly out to their Auckland base on Saturday, before taking on Fiji in their opening game on Monday, June 2.
Wales then face tough tests against Six Nations rivals Ireland and France, but the 20-year-old Scarlets centre reckons his team are in peak condition to reach the semi-final stage.
They were buoyed by their 31-19 victory over Scotland at the Brewery Field in their World Championship warm-up match on Wednesday, and Hughes can't wait for the tournament to get under way.
"Now that we're going on Saturday it's getting really exciting. I'm in a rush to get all the last-minute things ready," said Hughes.
"It's not just going to be a good rugby experience but a good life experience as well. To go to a country like New Zealand, whose love of rugby may even be bigger than it is here, is great, and hopefully we can get some support out there.
"The semi-finals is the target, and it has to be - you have to try and win it. The target is to get out of the group and then go from there. At any level of rugby, when it comes down to a semi-final in a major competition, it's all about who performs on the day.
"It's a tough group, but it's a big challenge for us that we're looking forward to and hopefully we can execute our game-plan and play to the level we need to."
The U20s squad are now just under a month into their preparation for youth rugby's premier tournament and Hughes is convinced their time together is already paying off.
Head coach Byron Hayward announced his party on April 23 and two weeks of predominantly conditioning followed immediately after, with a further fortnight having since been spent on the training park with attentions turning towards the tournament opener with the Fijians.
The squad have also been using a GPS tracking system during their time at the WRU National Centre of Excellence and Hughes insists that in itself has been a huge benefit.
"We've been lucky enough to have GPS tracking systems while we train and while we play which has boosted the levels of fitness," added Hughes.
"The boys have benefitted massively from that and I think the level of intensity in training and in our games have gone up.
"We saw that against Scotland, especially in the first half when we had some ball and got into some phases and showed we were fit."
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.