Byron Hayward speaks to the media after announcing his Six Nations squad
Wales Under 20 head coach Byron Hayward says he is looking forward to seeing some of his younger players in action in the upcoming Six Nations.
In terms of talent identification for the squad in this campaign, it has been far more thorough than last year
Hayward this week named a 31-man squad for the upcoming tournament with only eight of those involved boasting previous international caps at Under 20 level.
It provides a number of players with a first opportunity to impress as Wales look to go one better than last season's second place finish.
"Last season was certainly a good one for us," said Hayward.
"There are a lot of young players coming through and that's why talent identification is so important to us. Hopefully it may be beneficial again this season."
After finishing as runners-up in the 2013 Six Nations, Wales went on to reach the final at the Junior World Championship with the likes of Rhodri Williams, Jordan Williams, Hallam Amos and Ellis Jenkins impressing. All four have gone on to play regional rugby this season with Rhodri Williams and Amos making their full international debuts last November.
Now, Hayward is looking forward to seeing the next generation of players come through.
"In terms of talent identification for the squad in this campaign, it has been far more thorough than last year," he said.
"We had a training day in September, a lot of physical testing and we finished with a game against the Welsh Students recently.
"The Six Nations is a huge challenge and it's about trying to better what we did last year. We want to improve the depth of our squad for when we go to the Junior World Championship.
"We aren't going to get anywhere in a tournament like that with just 18 players. That's the biggest challenge for us in terms of getting depth, especially in certain positions.
"It's a bit like a pre-season for us, albeit a really important pre-season. The bigger picture is the Junior World Championship and we need to get a benchmark of where we are in the weeks ahead."
Hayward and the rest of his coaching staff all agreed on the decision that Scarlets centre Steffan Hughes would lead Wales for the Six Nations.
"Making Steff captain was a choice we all backed as coaches," Hayward added. "He is a professional both on and off the field and sets very high standards. He's got experience from last year and it's important we have someone to make the tough decisions for us.
On his appointment as skipper, Hughes said: "It's an honour to be named captain of your country and it's vital we look ahead now.
"The squad is looking good in training and we need to set high standards for each other to benefit the group."
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