With the Junior World Championship 2013 kicking off in France, Wales’ Under 20 squad are hoping for yet another successful run in the tournament. Having reached the semi-final last time, and recording the baby All Blacks’ first ever defeat they are looking to push on to bigger and better things this time around.
Head Coach Danny Wilson has picked an exciting squad, with numerous players having gained valuable experience in the RaboDirect PRO 12 this season, which will no doubt help Wales’ chances.
Wales U20 Squad:
Forwards: Ellis Jenkins (capt, Blues / Cardiff), Nicky Smith (Ospreys / Swansea), Gareth Thomas (Scarlets/ Carmarthen), Tom Davies (Blues /Cardiff), Dan Suter (Ospreys / Bridgend), Nicky Thomas (Ospreys / Swansea), Ethan Lewis (Blues / Cardiff), Elliot Dee (Dragons / Bedwas), Carwyn Jones (Scarlets / Carmarthen), Jack Jones (Ospreys / Rovigo), Rhodri Hughes (Ospreys / Swansea), Ieuan Jones (Dragons / Newport), Daniel Thomas (Scarlets / Llanelli), Sion Bennett (Scarlets / Carmarthen), James Benjamin (Dragons/ Bedwas)
Backs: Rhodri Williams (Scarlets / Llandovery), Joshua Davies (Dragons / Bedwas), Harri Evans (North Wales / RGC), Sam Davies (Ospreys / Swansea), Steffan Hughes (Scarlets / Llanelli), Jack Dixon (Dragons / Bedwas), Thomas Pascoe (Blues / Pontypridd), Aaron Warren (Llandovery), Ashley Evans (Ospreys / Bridgend), Jordan Williams (Scarlets / Llanelli), Hallam Amos (Dragons / Bedwas), Dion Jones (Scarlets Academy /Llanelli), Owen Jenkins (Blues / Pontypridd)
Wales find themselves in Pool C in this tournament along with Argentina, Scotland and their first opponents on the 5th June; Samoa. As top seeds, Wales are favourites in this group although Argentina, who finished 4th in last year’s tournament are likely to cause them the most trouble.
Samoa are as ever a hugely physical side and Wales will have to be sure to gain control of the set piece if they want their superior backline skills to pay off. In terms of development and fitness, Wales should have the edge over their rivals and will be looking to lay down a marker in their opening game. With limited knowledge of their rivals, Wales cannot afford to take them lightly and Wilson has picked a strong side, to be captained by the impressive Ellis Jenkins. There is a good mixture of more experienced players as well as new caps, with the coach mindful of a tough turnaround of matches in a short space of time.
If Wales can earn themselves any sort of solid platform then they have the players to cause Samoa trouble. With an excellent ball carrier in Ieuan Jones and a jackler of the ball in Dan Thomas in the backrow, the breakdown could be where Wales really make their mark.
Sam Davies is now very experienced at running the show for this Wales side at fly half and he’ll be hoping for a solid display. It is an inexperienced back three, but with lots of exciting talent to watch. Owen Jenkins is rewarded for his good season’s form with Pontypridd, with Llanelli’s Dion Jones taking up a slot on the bench.
There is good experience on the bench to call upon in the likes of Sion Bennett and Rhodri Williams. Squad rotation will be key in this tournament and Wilson will be hoping his new combinations and mix of players will provide the stepping stone in this first match for his squad to truly build on, but clinching a win is an absolute must.
Wales v Samoa, Wednesday 5th June, Nantes – kick off 5pm (6pm local time)
Wales: 1. Gareth Thomas, 2. Ethan Lewis, 3. Nicky Thomas, 4. Carwyn Jones, 5. Rhodri Hughes, 6. Ellis Jenkins ( C ), 7. Daniel Thomas, 8. Ieuan Jones, 9. Joshua Davies, 10. Sam Davies, 11. Ashley Evans, 12. Jack Dixon, 13. Steffan Hughes, 14. Owen Jenkins, 15. Hallam Amos
Replacements: 16. Elliot Dee, 17. Thomas Davies, 18. Daniel Suter, 19. Jack Jones, 20. Sion Bennett, 21. Rhodri Williams, 22. Harri Evans, 23. Dion Jones
Samoa: 1. Sam Ah Sam ( C ) , 2. Sebastian Siataga, 3. Ezrah Amituanai, 4. Brian Aliinuuese, 5. Natal Malaki, 6. Tofatuimoana Solia, 7. Beau Birthwhistle, 8. Elekana Laupola, 9. Scott Malolua, 10. Calvary Fonoti, 11. Samoa Toloa, 12. Melani Nanai, 13. Potoae Sasagi, 14. Fomai Ah Ki, 15. AJ Alatimu
Replacements: 16. Brooke Toomalatai, 17. Mike Sosene, 18. Andrew Broomhall, 19. Matt Elia, 20. Matt Peni, 21. Rameka Paraki, 22. Jason Tagiilina, 23. Faranisisi Fenika