Wales Under-18 play their opening match of the FIRA-AER Under 18 tournament against Italy on Friday (5pm, Graulhet, France) determined to continue the attacking approach that saw the side push France close and beat England in recent weeks.
The 26-man squad includes joint captain Kieron Assirrati, Owen Lane, Tom Mabley, Rhys Carré, Callum Bradbury, Shane Lewis Hughes, Aled Ward and Joe Gaughan from Cardiff Blues.
Wales Under-18 head coach Geraint Lewis said, “We are really looking forward to getting the tournament underway. It will be a concentrated amount of time away together as a squad which will help us to consolidate the work we’ve done already.
“We have a difficult first fixture against Italy who have already beaten France and run Ireland very close, but if we can carry on the good work we started against France and England we have a good chance of doing well.
“With the difference in eligibility age for this tournament, the dynamics of the squad have changed slightly but we’ve got some exciting talent coming in who will hopefully add to the standard and vision of the group while adding to the number of players exposed to this level of rugby.
“The majority of the boys have been training with us for a while. They know what their roles are and what we’re trying to do and the extra strength in depth can only be a good thing for the benefit of Welsh rugby.
“Hopefully we will have good weather and the boys will have the chance to get the ball in their hands and express themselves. We want to put some good passages of play together and be one of the best attacking sides in the tournament. We feel we played very well against France but not so well against England despite the result so we want to build on those games.”
Assiratti and Matthew Aubrey will be joint captains for the tournament and the team will play their remaining matches in the Toulouse area on Tuesday and Saturday week.
Wales Under 18 FIRA-AER squad:
Backs: Jack Evans (Scarlets/ Llandovery Coll/ Llandovery), George Gasson (Dragons / St Cenydd / Caerphilly), Keelan Giles (Ospreys/ Gower College/ Waunarlwydd), Shaun Pearce (Scarlets / Coleg Sir Gar/ Kidwelly); Owen Lane (Blues/ Cowbridge Comp), Connor Edwards (Dragons / Newport High School / Croesyceiliog), Kieran Williams (Ospreys / Neath Port Talbot Coll/ Glynneath), Rhun Williams (RGC / Llandrillo / Caernarfon); Arwel Robson (Dragons/ Lewis School / Penallta); Matthew Aubrey (Ospreys / Gower College / Pontarddulais), Efan Jones (RGC/ Rydal Penrhos / Wrexham)
Forwards: Kieron Assirrati (Blues / Coleg y Cymoedd / Wattstown), Steff Thomas (Scarlets/ Coleg Sir Gar), Tom Mabley (Blues/ Cymoedd/ St Peters), Jordan Davies (Scarlets/ Carmarthen Athletic), Rhys Carré (Blues/ Cowbridge Comp/ St Josephs) , Ellis Shipp (Dragons / Coleg Gwent / Penallta), Jordan Liney (Ospreys/ Hartbury/ Dunvant), Max Williams (Dragons/Newport High School/ Caerleon), Callum Bradbury (Blues / Coleg Y Cymoedd / Beddau), Shane Lewis Hughes (Blues / Coleg Y Cymoedd / Ystrad Rhondda), Aled Ward (Blues / Cowbridge / Cardiff Quins), Mitchell Walsh (Ospreys / Gower College / Mumbles), Nathan Hudd (Drgaons/ Newport High School / Caerphilly), Joe Gaughan (Blues /Cowbridge Comprehensive / Glamorgan Wanderers), Josh Cole (Ospreys/Neath Port Talbot College / Tonmawr).