Phil Davies' Wales Under 20 side kick-off their 2009 campaign against Scotland in Perth on Friday night (kick-off 7.10pm) knowing that things will only get warmer as they progress from the Six Nations into the IRB Junior World Championships.
For snow bound Scotland in February think hot, sticky and wet Fukuoka in June, when Wales will meet Tonga, Canada and Australia in Pool D of the World Championships.
There is a long way to go before the global kick-off in Japan - Wales finished fourth in the 2008 event on home soil - and the Six Nations series is very much in focus for Davies and his players.
"The players have put in a huge amount of effort and commitment in the build-up to the Six Nations. The Regions have also played their part in facilitating our preparations," said Davies.
"I'm really happy with the squad we've got and there is a lot of talent coming through. The Scots will provide a tough start for us in what is going to be a very interesting and competitive five months for these players."
Ebbw Vale back row man James Thomas has been given the honour of leading the side and last season's Under 18 international is well aware that good performances throughout the two championships could lead to professional contracts.
"It's a dream to lead your country - it's brilliant. A lot of us were together at Under 18 level last year and we have come across the players from last year's Under 20s in the various competitions this season, so we are a pretty tight-knit squad," said Thomas, who is in the Dragons Academy.
"It is going to be a hard five months for this squad with the Six Nations and then the IRB Junior World Championships in Japan. But we are all looking to enjoy the experience and pick up as many wins as possible along the way.
"We think that at our best we can beat the best teams. We have players in our side like Ashley Beck, Jason Tovey and Kristian Phillips who are full-time pros with Welsh Regions and we've all seen Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar pick up full Welsh caps this season before they have got out of their teens.
"My ambition is to join Jason Tovey in the Dragons squad next season and I hope that playing in the Six Nations Under 20 tournament will take me closer to that goal."
Wales will meet England at the Brewery Field, Bridgend in their second game on Friday, 13 February (kick-off 7.10pm). The English were Grand Slam champions at this age group last season and also reached the final of the World Junior Championships.
Tickets for that game are available from:
- WRU shop, Gate 3, Westgate Street (Mon - Sat 9.30 - 5pm)
- Ticketline, Westgate Street, Cardiff (Mon - Sat 9 - 5.30pm, phone bookings can be made by calling 02920 230130)
- Tickets are £5 for juniors and students, £10 and £15 for adults
Wales Under 20 (v Scotland): Jason Tovey (Dragons); Kristian Phillips (Ospreys / Neath), Nick Reynolds (Llanelli), Ashley Beck (Ospreys / Aberavon), Adam Hughes (Dragons academy / Bedwas); Dai Langdon (Dragons academy / Ebbw Vale), Rhys Downes (Blues academy / Pontypridd); Dan Watchurst (Dragons academy / Bedwas), Rhys Williams (Blues academy / Pontypridd), Scott Andrews (Blues academy / Glamorgan Wanderers), Sam Pailor (Pontypool), Ashley Sweet (Dragons academy / Cross Keys), James King (Ospreys academy / Aberavon), Josh Navidi (Blues academy / Glamorgan Wanderers), James Thomas (Dragons academy / Ebbw Vale, Captain)
Replacements: Simon Gardener (Scarlets academy / Llanelli), Craig Attwell (Dragons academy / Newbridge), Dan Partridge (Beddau), Jake Thomas (Cardiff), James Leadbeater (Cross Keys), Matthew Jarvis (Ospreys academy / Neath), James Loxton (Blues academy / Glamorgan Wanderers)
IRB World Junior Championships Draw
Pool A: New Zealand, Argentina, Ireland, Uruguay
Pool B: England, Samoa, Scotland, Japan
Pool C: South Africa, France, Italy, Fiji
Pool D: Wales, Australia, Canada, Tonga
Friday, 5 June: Tonga v Wales (19.00, Fukuoka)
Tuesday, 9 June: Wales v Canada (19.00, Fukuoka)
Saturday, 13 June: Wales v Australia (15.00, Fukuoka)
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