Four young Blues stars were among the Wales Under-20 squad and management that have arrived in New Zealand with a semi-final place in the Junior World Championship the primary target.
The young squad – that includes Callum Lewis, Ethan Lewis, Ben Roach and Tomos Williams from Blues - completed their preparations for the tournament last week following a 31-19 win over Scotland Under 20 in a warm-up match.
The competition, which will see each team play five international games in 19 days – will take place in Auckland and the surrounding area with Fiji Wales' first opposition next Monday (June 2).
Wales reached the final of the tournament in France last season – and the semi-finals the previous year – so expectations are high and head coach Byron Hayward is calling on his old heads to help steer the side to the last four.
"Quite a few of the boys played in the final last year”, said Hayward, "and that experience will be crucial. Those players have been in high pressure situations and will know how to deliver when they're under pressure this time around.
"There are a lot of leaders throughout the squad, including the likes of the captain Steffan Hughes, along with Jack Dixon, James Benjamin and the front row. They will be instrumental in us getting to the latter stages of the competition.”
"Externally, people may expect a lot from us, but our target is to get out of our group and as we showed last year in beating South Africa, that, once you get to the semi-finals, anything can happen.
"There is no bigger shop window for these boys to show what they can do, and as we've seen with the Under 20 programme in the last few years, many have gone on to be professional players and even play for Wales and the Lions so the incentive and motivation is there for them to do well.”
Junior World Championship squad 2014
Wales Under 20 Pool fixtures:
Monday 2 June: Wales v Fiji ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe, 15.35 local time
Friday 6 June: Wales v Ireland, ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe, 17.35 local time
Tuesday 10 June: Wales v France, QBE Stadium, Auckland, 15.35 local time
Wales Under 20 squad:
Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Luke Garrett (Dragons), Nicky Thomas (Ospreys), Callum Lewis (Blues), Benjamin Leung (Scarlets), Ethan Lewis (Blues), Elliot Dee (Dragons), Scott Otten (Ospreys), Joe Davies (Dragons), Rory Thornton (Ospreys), Scott Andrews (Dragons), Will Boyde (Carmarthen), Olly Cracknell (RGC), Scott Matthews (Dragons), Ben Roach (Blues), James Benjamin (Dragons)
Tom Williams (Blues), Luc Jones, Angus O'Brien (both Dragons), Ethan Davies (Dragons), Steffan Hughes (Scarlets), Jack Dixon (Dragons), Harri Evans (RGC), Tyler Morgan (Dragons), Joshua Adams (Scarlets), Dafydd Howells, Ashley Evans (both Ospreys), Afon Bagshaw (RGC)