Wales U20s boosted by return of key players

(IRB.COM) Monday 30 April 2012
 
 Wales U20s boosted by return of key players
Tom Prydie won four Test caps for Wales in 2010 while only 18

Test wing Tom Prydie is one of eight players that Wales Under 20 head coach Danny Wilson has been able to call upon for the IRB Junior World Championship 2012 in South Africa after Regional commitments largely ruled them out of the Six Nations earlier this year.

Prydie, who played four Tests on the wing for Wales in 2010, is part of the 28-man squad which will face a physical challenge with Pool A matches against four-time defending champions New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa.

Cory Hill, another of the eight, has been named captain for JWC 2012 and will look to the experience of Prydie, Ospreys fly half Matthew Morgan and Wales Sevens star Harry Robinson among others as Wales aim to better last year’s seventh place finish.

The others called up to strengthen the squad which finished fourth in the Six Nations after beating Italy and Scotland, are Cardiff Blues forward Luke Hamilton, Dragons centre Jack Dixon and Ospreys duo Tom Habberfield and Eli Walker.  

Morgan, Hamilton and Hill are among 10 players returning for a second experience of the key Under 20 tournament from which more than 110 players have graduated to play Test rugby, including eight members of the Welsh Grand Slam winning team of 2012.

“The players who have joined the squad since the Six Nations have already brought a new intensity to our training sessions and we hope that their Regional and international experience will help lift our playing performances too,” said Wilson.

AUDIO: DANNY WILSON ON SELECTION, PREPARATION AND HOPES FOR JWC 2012 >>

“The additional players have certainly improved our strength in depth, but now we must have a good month training in order to get on the plane feeling well prepared.”

Wilson, in his first season as Under 20 head coach, is under no illusions as to the challenge that awaits in South Africa with Wales having lost to both New Zealand and Fiji at JWC 2011 and Samoa returning as Junior World Rugby Trophy 2011 winners.

“It is an extremely physical group and we must meet that challenge head on if we want any chance of progressing to the top half of the draw,” added Wilson.

“New Zealand have proved year after year that they are the strongest side in the world at this age, so they will again be a huge challenge, but we must target our other pool games against Fiji and Samoa.

“We saw last season that those sides are very dangerous and we must execute the right game plan against them. We must be physically and mentally ready for all three games.”

Wales will play one friendly match before heading to South Africa, against their Japanese counterparts – who are preparing for the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2012 in Salt Lake City, USA – on 15 May at St Helens.

Wales Under 20 squad

Forwards: Rob Evans (Scarlets), Gareth Thomas (Scarlets), Kirby Myhill (Scarlets), Jamie Sollis (Dragons), Darran Harris (Blues), WillGriff John (Blues), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Cory Hill (captain, Blues), Matthew Screech (Blues), Rhodri  Hughes (Ospreys), Ieuan Jones (Dragons), Ellis Jenkins (Blues), Daniel Thomas (Scarlets), Luke Hamilton (Blues), Dan Baker (Ospreys).

Backs: Jonathan Evans (Dragons), Tom Habberfield (Ospreys), Sam Davies (Ospreys), Matthew Morgan (Ospreys), Owen Williams (Scarlets), Jack Dixon (Dragons), Thomas Pascoe (Blues), Iolo Evans (Scarlets), Luke Morgan (Ospreys), Harry Robinson (Blues), Eli Walker (Ospreys), Tom Prydie (Ospreys/ London Wasps), Ross Jones (Ospreys).