Wales Under 20 face France in their World Rugby U20 Championship opener in Calvisano tomorrow (3.30pm UK time, S4C).
Coach co-ordinator Allan Lewis has named a starting line-up which contains just four changes and one positional from the side that beat England in their Six Nations opener in February.
Dafydd Howells and Tom Phillips return at full-back and on the blindside flank respectively after missing most of the Six Nations through injury after that game at Eirias Park. The changes see Lloyd Lewis coming in on the right wing with Joshua Adams moving to the left and Owen Watkin partners Garyn Smith in the centre. Ryan Elias and Adam Beard are the only changes up front.
Allan Lewis said, “We have selected from a fully fit squad, preparation has gone well and in hot, dry conditions out here we are expecting an exciting game of 15-man rugby against France.
“We are raring to go and both teams realise the importance of the first game."
The Welsh youngsters are looking to reverse the loss they suffered at the hands of France in the Six Nations.
"We certainly have a point to prove after being out-played by France last time around. However, it’s a different scenario here. There won’t be the same partisan crowd France enjoyed at St Gaudens and we have a good ref in Englishman Matt Carley so there will be no excuses. We have studied France and although France will fancy their chances, we are determined to right some wrongs.”
Lewis said of the inclusion of Wales Under 20 captain Rory Thornton and Tyler Morgan in Warren Gatland’s 47 man training squad. “Their step-up is the perfect illustration of the purpose of the pathway programme, enabling players to slot straight into the senior side from the Under 20s. Although Tyler's inclusion is clearly a loss to the Under 20 side, he wasn’t involved in our Six Nations campaign so our players are well prepared for what is to come at this level."
Wales Under 20 v France:
Dafydd Howells (Ospreys); Lloyd Lewis (Dragons), Owen Watkin (Ospreys), Garyn Smith (Blues), Joshua Adams (Scarlets), Dan Jones (Scarlets), Tom Williams (Blues); Luke Garrett (Dragons), Ryan Elias (Scarlets), Dillon Lewis (Blues), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Rory Thornton (Ospreys, captain), Tom Phillips (Scarlets), Ollie Griffiths (Dragons), Harrison Keddie (Dragons)
Replacements : Liam Belcher (Blues), Keagan Bale (Dragons), Leon Brown (Dragons), Seb Davies (Blues), Jon Fox (Ospreys), Kieran Hardy (Scarlets), Jarrod Evans (Blues), Barney Nightingale (Dragons)