Highly-rated fly half Rhys Patchell is the only uncapped players named in Wales Under 20 coach Danny Wilson’s 28-man squad for the IRB Junior World Championship 2013 in France from 5-23 June.
Cardiff Blues fly half Patchell is one of the most experienced regional players in the squad but has not yet represented his country at Under 20 level. He and prop Tom Davies are the only players not to have featured in this year’s Under 20 Six Nations.
Eight of the squad – including 2013 captain Ellis Jenkins – were part of Wales’ squad at JWC 2012 and enjoyed the highs of being the first side to beat four-time champions New Zealand in the Championship’s history and their country’s best ever finish of third.
“A number of our players involved with their regions came back into our squad during the Six Nations and played their part in the tournament, training and playing with the rest of the group so we feel we are a more solid group this season,” said Wilson.
“The players that are coming into the squad, Rhys Patchell and Thomas Davies, will add significant strength with Rhys having been a first choice player with the Blues this season.
“It’s an experienced group in terms of Under 20 rugby, and some players have had a significant amount of regional rugby too, so on paper it’s a good squad, but it’s going to need to be because we have a tough group with Samoa, Scotland and Argentina.
“Argentina won all their pool games last year, beating France, Australia and Scotland and losing to eventual winners South Africa in the semis and have just beaten South Africa 2-1 in a Test series.
“Samoa and Scotland will be very difficult matches too so we will have to hit form to compete with and beat all those sides in order to qualify for the semis. That will be our aim – to reach the semis again and anything can happen from that point.”
Wilson believes the Junior World Championship provides a fantastic for players to step up to the next level. “As we saw last season, when players perform well individually and contribute towards good collective performances at the Junior World Championship, it puts them in a good position to stake a claim for regular regional rugby.”
Wales Under 20 squad
Forwards: Ellis Jenkins (captain), Nicky Smith, Gareth Thomas, Tom Davies, Dan Suter, Nicky Thomas, Ethan Lewis, Elliot Dee, Carwyn Jones, Jack Jones, Rhodri Hughes, Ieuan Jones, Daniel Thomas, Sion Bennett, James Benjamin.
Backs: Rhodri Williams, Joshua Davies, Rhys Patchell, Sam Davies, Cory Allen, Steffan Hughes, Jack Dixon, Thomas Pascoe, Harry Robinson, Aaron Warren, Ashley Evans, Jordan Williams, Hallam Amos.