Wales U20’s head coach Gareth Williams has named his side to face France on Sunday as eight players are set to make their junior Six Nations debuts.
Leicester Tigers’ Tommy Reffell skippers the side for the trip to the reigning champions as Wales aim to secure a first U20’s Six Nations title in three years.
A host of Dragons young stars are set to make their first Six Nations appearances with Tom Hoppe, Aneurin Owen and Deon Smith lining up among the backs.
Cardiff Blues full back Ian Davies gets the nod to make his debut, while Ben Warren, Teddy Williams, Jac Price and Jac Morgan all feature among the forwards.
The Wales head coach believes his side have what it takes to take on the reigning World Rugby Under 20 Championship winners.
“We’re very excited about our first competitive game of the season, and it doesn’t get much bigger than against the current world champions,” said Williams.
“The occasion will be superb and it will be a true test for us as a group. We have ambitions to emulate them in the coming years, so it will be a good start.
“We’re delighted with how we’ve trained, and that has been a credit to players who have missed out on selection. Their intensity in training has pushed the starting team brilliantly this week.
“We’re also very grateful to Cardiff RFC for helping us. Steve Law and his team were brilliant in an opposed training session we had at Cardiff Arms Park. With the form they are in, and quality in their squad, it was a good 45 minute challenge for our boys’ processes and approach.”
Despite the prospect of taking on a raft of already experienced French Top 14 players, Williams considers that Sunday will be an important learning curve for his men.
“This match represents a great opportunity. An opportunity for us as a new squad of players and coaches, but also an opportunity for individuals against a French squad with a high level of Top 14 exposure,” he said.
“If our players can prove themselves against that type of experience, it will hold us in good stead for the fixture, but also for their individual progression with our regions.”
Wales U20s v France U20s, Stade de la Rabine, Vannes, Sun 3 February (KO 3pm)
15. Ioan Davies (Cardiff Blues), 14. Tomi Lewis (Scarlets), 13. Tom Hoppe (Dragons), 12. Aneurin Owen (Dragons), 11. Deon Smith (Dragons), 10. Cai Evans (Ospreys), 9. Harri Morgan (Ospreys), 1. Rhys Davies (Ospreys), 2. Dewi Lake (Ospreys), 3. Ben Warren (Cardiff Blues), 4. Teddy Williams (Cardiff Blues), 5. Jac Price (Scarlets), 6. Jac Morgan (Aberavon/Scarlets), 7. Taine Basham (Dragons), 8. Tommy Reffell (Leicester) (c)
Replacements: 16. Will Griffiths (Dragons), 17. Kemsley Mathias (Scarlets), 18. Nick English (Bristol Bears), 19. Ed Scragg (Dragons), 20. Ellis Thomas (Llanelli), 21. Jamie Hill (Cardiff Blues), 22. Sam Costelow (Leicester), 23. Joe Roberts (Scarlets)