Cardiff Blues’ Alex Mann has been named captain of Wales under-20 ahead of their upcoming Six Nations campaign.
The back row, who featured in Cardiff’s friendly clash against Ospreys in February, is joined by seven of his club team-mates in Ioan Cunningham’s 32-man squad.
Due to the effects of the pandemic, and the postponement of the World Under 20 Championship, the Six Nations is held at a later time of the year compared to usual and all games will take place at the iconic Cardiff Arms Park.
Academy player Mann is joined in the back row ranks by number eight Evan Lloyd, who came through the system at Cardiff and Vale College.
There is also a trio of Cardiff front row players included, with Nathan Evans and hooker Efan Daniel named alongside Theo Bevacqua.
Prop Bevacqua, who was identified through the Welsh Exiles programme and signed for the Cardiff Blues academy last year, made his senior debut in the Guinness PRO14 clash against Munster in February.
The loosehead is one of six players involved who have previously been capped at under 20 level. Another one of the six is utility back Jacob Beetham, who featured in last year’s campaign.
Half back duo Ben Burnell and Ethan Lloyd complete Cardiff’s contingent in the squad, with coach T Rhys Thomas also part of the backroom staff as confirmed earlier this week.
Centre Ioan Evans, who has been a member of the Pontypridd squad in recent seasons, came through the Cardiff Blues pathway and will link up with the club next season.
A number of other players also come from region, but now ply their trade elsewhere, including Exeter Chiefs duo Dan John and Christ Tshiunza and Ospreys’ Garyn Phillips.
Meanwhile, Theo Cabango has been ruled out of the campaign after picking up a shoulder injury and Immanuel Feyi-Waboso is absent as he take time to focus on his studies, with Cardiff Blues and the Welsh Rugby Union’s blessing.
Ahead of his first campaign in charge, head coach Cunningham said: “It’s been a challenge but a real exciting one.
“It’s been a long process observing players in a training environment which has also been a challenge with covid protocols and no games but we are confident as a coaching group that the right decisions have been made and we’re excited to see them go.
“We initially had a squad of around 46/48 and then we cut that down to 36. Then there were some more tough conversations when we brought it down again and that brought home how much it meant to these players to represent their country – dropping it down to 32 has been tough, in some positions the depth is very strong.
“Overall it is a fairly young squad, there are only six players carrying over from last year’s group so it’s an induction of fresh new talent to the group which is exciting. We’ve got some strength up front, our forwards are a big group of big men but we also have a talented backline with gifted players - hopefully we can give them enough possession to express themselves.
“Success I suppose means winning games, it’s getting these guys to understand what it takes to win. I think it is part of their development, it’s their process of moving forward. We like to express ourselves and play a brand of rugby that’s attractive but also have guys enjoy winning in a Welsh shirt.”
Forwards: Garyn Phillips (Ospreys), Theo Bevaqua (Cardiff Blues), Cameron Jones (Ospreys), Efan Daniel (Cardiff Blues), Ollie Burrows (Exeter Chiefs), Connor Chapman (Dragons), Nathan Evans (Cardiff Blues), Lewys Jones (USON Nevers), Zak Giannini (Llanelli Wanderers), Joe Peard (Dragons), James Fender (Ospreys), Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs), Rhys Thomas (Ospreys/Aberavon), Alex Mann (Capt – Cardiff Blues), Christ Tshiunza (Exeter Chiefs), Harri Deaves (Ospreys), Tristan Davies (Ospreys), Carwyn Tuipulotu (Scarlets), Evan Lloyd (Cardiff Blues)
Backs: Jacob Beetham (Cardiff Blues), Morgan Richards (Dragons/Pontypridd), Carrick McDonnough (Dragons), Eddie James (Scarlets), Tom Florence (Ospreys), Joe Hawkins (Ospreys), Ioan Evans (Pontypridd), Daniel John (Exeter Chiefs), Sam Costelow (Scarlets), Will Reed (Dragons), Ben Burnell (Cardiff Blues), Harri Williams (Scarlets), Ethan Lloyd (Cardiff Blues)