Wales Under 20 head coach Danny Wilson has selected his starting line-up to kick off the Under 20 Six Nations at Colwyn Bay on Friday night against Mike Ruddock's Ireland Under 20 side. (KO 7.10pm)
Five players starting on Friday were part of the Wales Under 20 squad that finished third at the Junior World Championship last June, with three more members of that squad on the bench to face Ireland. In addition, scrum half Rhodri Williams played in last season's Under 20 Six Nations.
Full back Dion Jones has been given the nod to start at full back in front of his home town crowd. The 19 year old played for Nant Conwy, was a member of the WRU RGC 1404 Academy and studied at Rydal Penrhos School, Colwyn Bay before moving to Llanelli to join the Scarlets Academy last summer.
Ospreys outside half Sam Davies and Scarlets prop Gareth Thomas have been added to the Wales Under 20 Six Nations squad after recovering from injury with Sam, who is the son of Gloucester Director of Rugby Nigel, reclaiming the No 10 jersey he wore during the Junior World Championship and Gareth starting on the bench.
Wilson said, "On the basis of our training sessions so far, I would say this is our strongest available side, although we will learn more about the players from the matches themselves. Those playing on Friday are playing for a chance to hold onto their place against France next week.
"As we said last season, this is the starting point of our journey towards the Junior World Championship, but we are very keen to start well on Friday. Some of our squad are playing for their Regions this weekend, while others may be rested if they've played a lot of rugby recently or are carrying knocks.
"Ireland are a good side, they had a strong Six Nations and Junior World Championship last season, beating hosts South Africa and were unfortunate not to make the semi-finals. They are clearly well coached by Mike Ruddock and his team so we are well aware of the challenge they present but we are well prepared and will be going all out to start this tournament well.
"We are genuinely pleased to be returning to Colwyn Bay. We were bowled over last season by the welcome we were given by everyone involved, the facilities and the atmosphere generated by the fantastic crowd so we are looking forward to another great night at Eirias on Friday."
Wales Under 20 v Ireland Friday 1 February, 7.10pm, Eirias, Colwyn Bay
Dion Jones (Scarlets/ Llanelli); Ashley Evans (Ospreys/ Bridgend), Cory Allen (Blues / Cardiff), Steffan Hughes (Scarlets / Llanelli), Ashton Hewitt (Dragons / Newport); Sam Davies (Ospreys / Swansea), Rhodri Williams (Scarlets/ Llandovery); Nicky Smith (Ospreys / Swansea), Elliot Dee (Bedwas), Nicky Thomas (Ospreys / Swansea), Carwyn Jones (Scarlets/ Carmarthen), Rhodri Hughes (Ospreys/ Swansea), Sion Bennett (Scarlets / Carmarthen), Daniel Thomas (Scarlets / Llanelli), Ellis Jenkins (capt, Blues / Cardiff)
Ethan Lewis (Blues / Cardiff), Gareth Thomas (Scarlets / Carmarthen), Dan Suter (Ospreys / Bridgend), Jack Jones (Ospreys / Rovigo), James Benjamin (Bedwas), Joshua Davies (Dragons / Bedwas), Ethan Davies (Bedwas), Thomas Pascoe (Blues / Pontypridd)
Tickets are going fast for Friday night's match, and as last year's matches were sold out ahead of match day, fans are urged to purchase their tickets early to avoid disappointment.
Ticket prices have been frozen for this season at £15 for reserved seating and £10 (adults) and £5 (concessions) in the terrace and are available now from:
Colwyn Leisure Centre: 01492 577900 or to personal callers at Colwyn Bay Lesuire centre, Eirias Road, Colwyn Bay, LL29 7SP
Venue Cymru: 01492 872000 or to personal callers at Venue Cymru, Y Promenad, Llandudno, LL30 1BB)
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