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Preview: Returning faces form Wales backbone for Italy Under-20s opener

Preview: Returning faces form Wales backbone for Italy Under-20s opener

Preview: Returning faces form Wales backbone for Italy Under-20s opener
  • Jac Morgan will skipper Wales in their Under-20 Six Nations opener against Italy
  • Sam Costelow is favoured at No.10 as Bristol Bears fly-half Ioan Lloyd misses out
  • Italy will have Gloucester teenage prodigy Stephen Varney in their starting XV

Wales start their Under-20s Six Nations campaign against Italy in Colwyn Bay on Friday night, with Scarlets flanker Jac Morgan captaining and a familiar face lining up for Italy.

Gloucester Rugby’s 18-year-old sensation Stephen Varney will start for the Azzurri and will have more skin in the game than most.

The scrum-half and son of former Neath flanker Adrian Varney was born in Wales but qualifies for Italy through his mother Valeria.

He rose to attention after he started training at the Gloucester RFC Academy, scoring two tries for Italy against Wales in the final game of the U18s Six Nations festival last year.

The 33-man Wales squad has been cut to 23 for this fixture by head coach Gareth Williams, with Jacob Beetham and Ioan Lloyd among those to miss out on the matchday squad

Lloyd, who represented Wales U18s at the 2019 Six Nations Festival, made six appearances for Bristol Bears this season but Sam Costelow and Luke Scully have been favoured as the No.10 options.

Costelow alongside Price, Ben Warren, Ioan Davies, Dafydd Buckland and Aneurin Owen are all returning to the squad from last year’s U20s Championship.

And Williams is pleased to have so many players from last year competing for places again, while also taking the opportunity to bring fresh faces into the fold.

“The returning boys gives us a good nucleus to work from and provides us a good spine throughout the side,” said Williams.

“It’s good to have that sort of experience going into a campaign and I know those players are ready to take on the mantle of being a senior player in what I think is an exciting squad.

“It’s great to have a group of returning players, while also blooding new players as we build towards the Junior World Cup later in the year.”

Wales team: Josh Thomas (Ospreys); Dan John (Millfield School), Osian Knott (Scarlets), Aneurin Owen (Dragons), Ewan Rosser (Dragons); Sam Costelow (Leicester Tigers), Dafydd Buckland (Dragons); Callum Williams (Scarlets), Dom Booth (Scarlets), Ben Warren (Cardiff Blues), Jac Price (Scarlets), Ben Carter (Dragons), Ioan Davies (Cardiff Blues), Jac Morgan (Scarlets, capt), Morgan Strong (Ospreys).

Replacements: Will Griffiths (Dragons), Theo Bevacqua (Cardiff Blues), Archie Griffin (Bath Rugby), James Fender (Ospreys), Travis Huntley (Ospreys), Ellis Bevan (Cardiff Met), Luke Scully (Worcester), Bradley Roderick (Ospreys).

Italy team: Jacopo Trulla (Kawasaki Robot Calvisano), Cristian Lai (7 Fradis Rugby), Federico Mori (Kawasaki Robot Calvisano), Giulio Bertaccini (Valorugby Emilia), Michel Mba (Fiamme Oro Rugby), Paolo Garbisi (Argos Petrarca, capt), Stephen Varney (Gloucester Rugby), Lorenzo Cannone (Florentia Rugby), Manuel Zuliani (Rugby Paese), Angelo Maurizi (Polisportiva L’Aquila Rugby), Andrea Zambonin (Rangers Vicenza), Riccardo Favretto (Mogliano Rugby 1969), Filippo Alongi (Mogliano Rugby 1969), Gianmarco Lucchesi (Lions Amaranto), Matteo Drudi (Frascati Rugby Club 2015)

Replacements: Matteo Baldelli (Cavalieri Union), Lorenzo Michelini (Kawasaki Robot Calvisano), Ion Neculai (Cavalieri Union), Nathanel Panozzo (Argos Petrarca), Luca Andreani (Bassa Bresciana Leno), Manfredi Albanese (S.S. Lazio Rugby 1927), Mattia Ferrarin (Udine Rugby), Michele Brighetti (Accademia Nazionale Ivan Francescato)