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Daniel returns to Wales under-20 line-up for Azzurri clash

International | 5th July 2022

Efan Daniel returns to the Wales under-20 starting line-up for their final Six Nations Summer Series pool stage clash against Italy on Wednesday.

The hooker, who came off the bench in the  win over Georgia last time out, is one of two changes made by head coach Byron Hayward, as they prepare to battle with the Azzurri for top spot. Both sides head into their penultimate encounters with 100 per cent records under their belt.

Hooker Daniel - who started in the opening day victory over Scotland - is joined in the starting matchday squad by six of his club team-mates, including centre Mason Grady, who continues his formidable midfield partnership with skipper Joe Hawkins.

Cameron Winnett keeps hold of the number 15 jersey for the third game running, while loosehead prop Rhys Barratt joins Daniel in the front row. Ethan Fackrell, who departs Cardiff Arms Park for RGC this summer, is retained at openside.

There is a place on the bench for tighthead prop Adam Williams, who joined Cardiff this week from Dragons, with Nathan Evans heading in the opposite direction.

Replacement Mackenzie Martin completes the Blue and Blacks' contingent in the squad. Elsewhere, Ben Williams is the only other change made to the starting line-up, coming into the number six jersey to make his first start at this level.

“I thought we fought back well and showed a lot of character in that game,” said Hayward.“We went in 21-13 down at halftime and were in a battle, that’s for sure. Georgia were a very well organised and physical side so to dig ourselves out of the hole and come back with 17 unanswered points to get us to a 30-21 lead was on the back of good execution to start with, then character and fight to get the victory.

“Speaking to a lot of the players after the game and the days following, they had never experienced playing against a side like Georgia in terms of the physicality before. Some of these boys have played URC and senior rugby in England so it’s a great experience for them.”Hayward feels the win against Georgia is a measure of how far the group have come since finishing fifth in the Six Nations.“That was something Joe Hawkins (Wales captain) mentioned post-match. He simply said that in the Six Nations we may not have come back from a deficit like that.With a home crowd behind them, Italy start as favourites but Hayward is optimistic his young side can overturn the defeat they suffered at Colwyn Bay in the Six Nations.“They beat us in the Six Nations and they beat England so we know how tough it is going to be,” he said.“They are unbeaten here and they are a very strong side. They have a powerful driving maul which is an area where we have had to focus on to make sure we are better at defending them because a lot of their tries have come from that area of the game.“We know it is going to be a tough day defensively and I think it is going to be a real proper Test match - a good hard physical game and it could be a one score game either way.”

Wales U20s v Italy at Stadio Monigo, Wednesday 6 July (KO 7pm UK)15 Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby)
14 Oli Andrew (Dragons RFC)
13 Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby)
12 Joe Hawkins (Ospreys – Capt)
11 Harri Houston (Ospreys)
10 Dan Edwards (Ospreys)
9 Morgan Lloyd (Dragons RFC);
1 Rhys Barratt (Cardiff Rugby)
2 Efan Daniel (Cardiff Rugby)
3 Nathan Evans (Dragons RFC)
4 Christ Tshiunza (Exeter Chiefs)
5 Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs)
6 Ben Williams (Aberavon)
7 Ethan Fackrell (Cardiff Rugby)8 Ryan Woodman (Dragons RFC)

Replacements16 Oli Burrows (Exeter Chiefs)
17 Cameron Jones (Ospreys)
18 Adam Williams (Cardiff Rugby)
19 Mackenzie Martin (Cardiff Rugby)
20 Morgan Morse (Ospreys)
21 Luke Davies (Llanelli)
22 Josh Phillips (Scarlets)
23 Bryn Bradley (Harlequins)
24 Joe Westwood (Dragons RFC)
25 Iestyn Hopkins (Ospreys)
26 Caleb Salmon (Scarlets)