Wales head coach Byron Hayward has named a 36-man squad for the Six Nations Under-20s, with Ryan Woodman named as captain.
Dragons back row Woodman will lead Wales’ charge this campaign, with their opening match taking place against Ireland at Stadium CSM next Friday night.
Among those joining him in the squad are scrum half Harri Williams and centre Tom Florence, both of whom played for Wales in the Championship 12 months ago.
After seeking advice from fellow coaches and management staff, head coach Hayward had no doubts about selecting Woodman as captain.
“I sought the opinion of all our staff because I think it’s important to make that process as thorough as possible because they see him in different respective areas like medical, S&C,” he said.
“They see what they are like in the gym, what they are like off the field and on the field and Ryan was the overwhelming candidate.
“He commands his place in the team number one but he’s one of those Alex Mann characters who leads by example. He’s a very quiet boy but what he says is mature and sensible and people listen and they will follow him so he was the overriding candidate.”
Hayward has also included 11 players who participated in last summer’s Under-20s Summer Series in Italy as Wales look to improve on their fifth-place finish in 2022.
After a successful Summer Series that saw Wales win three matches before being beaten by South Africa, he has confidence that his squad can deliver more positive results despite a lack of experience in some areas.
Hayward added: “It is the strongest squad we could have picked because of recruitment. Our identification of this squad has been really thorough since last September and we’re in a totally different place to where we were 12 months ago.
“I’ve watched virtually every game these boys have played from September this season either by footage or watching the games. We’ve also had workshops plus we had a match against Scotland pre-Christmas and then we had Poland and we’ve also had two hit-outs against Cardiff Met and Pontypool in the last couple of weeks so preparation wise I think we’re in a good place.
“We are inexperienced up front in the front five in terms of age and playing-wise at this level but we have experience in the back line and it’s always the same every year, it is one or the other.”
🏴 𝐂𝐀𝐑𝐅𝐀𝐍 𝐂𝐘𝐌𝐑𝐔 𝐔𝟐𝟎 🏴
💪 The Cymru U20 squad for the @SixNationsU20#WelshRugby
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏴 (@WelshRugbyUnion) January 27, 2023
In total, Hayward has selected 20 forwards and 16 backs for the Championship.
After starting their campaign on home soil against Ireland, Wales will travel to the Scotstoun Stadium to face Scotland in Round 2.
They then host England in Round 3, before trips to take on Italy and France in Rounds 4 and 5 respectively.
Wales U20 Six Nations squad
Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths (Dragons), Freddie Chapman (Ospreys), Josh Morse (Scarlets), Sam Scarfe (Dragons), Lewis Morgan (Scarlets), Isaac Young (Scarlets), Ellis Fackrell (Ospreys), Will Couch (Scarlets), Tomas Pritchard (Scarlets), Liam Edwards (Ospreys), Jonny Green (Harlequins), Owain Evans (RGC), Ryan Woodman (Dragons – CAPT), Huw Davies (Sale), Caleb Salmon (Scarlets), Tom Caple (Dragons), Luca Giannini (Scarlets), Gwilym Evans (Cardiff Rugby), Morgan Morse (Ospreys), Mackenzie Martin (Cardiff Rugby)
Archie Hughes (Scarlets), Harri Williams (Scarlets), Che Hope (Dragons), Dan Edwards (Ospreys), Harrison James (Cardiff Rugby), Iwan Jenkins (Exeter), Harri Ackerman (Dragons), Bryn Bradley (Harlequins), Louie Hennessey (Bath Rugby), Tom Florence (Ospreys), Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby), Harri Houston (Ospreys), Oli Andrew (Dragons), Llien Morgan (Ospreys), Jac Davies (Scarlets), Kian Abraham (Scarlets)