Saturday, 1 June 2013

Wales Under-20s learn from the seniors before taking on the world

Wales Under-20's coach Danny Wilson believes training sessions with the senior side have been “very beneficial” to his squad as they leave for the Junior World Championships.

Today they head to Nantes ready for their tournament opener against Samoa on Wednesday, and Wilson knows his players can take this chance to springboard themselves into regional contention at domestic level next season.

To prepare, they have been put through a rigorous training schedule which included sessions against the senior squad who themselves were getting ready for their summer tour to Japan.

Wilson was pleased with the preparations, saying: “We have prepared well. The sessions against the seniors have added intensity to our training and have been very beneficial for our players.

“A number of players from our last JWC squad have gone on to play regular regional rugby this season and have become far more familiar to the rugby public.

“Likewise, it will be beneficial to Welsh rugby if we can be successful again in this tournament. The boys will be exposed to big pressure games, which they can learn a huge amount from and bring back to regional rugby in Wales, especially if we make it to a semi.”

That is the aim for the squad after fighting their way to the final four last year before eventually going down to New Zealand. However, they ended their tournament by beating Argentina in the third place play-off, meaning they enter this year’s tournament as the third seeds.

“Our opening fixture is key,” Wilson said of the Samoa clash. “Last year we got the ball rolling with a good performance against Fiji and we want to do the same this year to give us confidence to take into the rest of the tournament.

“We will turn up against Samoa fully aware of what we’re facing, but confident that we can, with our best performance, put them away and build from there. We know that to get wins in our group we will have to earn them, they won’t land in our lap.”

After Samoa come Scotland and then Argentina, with Wales knowing they will have to be at their finest to pick up maximum points. If they make it through those, then come two knockout matches to decide the world rankings at this level going forward. Then of course there's the seedings for the next tournament to decide.

“Samoa will be a big, physical side that will cause plenty of problems if we give them the chance in terms of collisions,” added Wilson. “Scotland are a strong side and Argentina will be even stronger. They beat Australia, Scotland and France to go through to the semis last year and recently recorded two victories over last year’s champions South Africa.”

Wales know their work is cut out, but will point to the fact their squad boasts a large amount of Principality Premiership and Regional experience. This could stand them in good stead as they face the best young talent from across the globe over the next month.

Wales’ JWC fixtures:
Wednesday, June 5, Nantes (6pm): Wales v Samoa;
Sunday, June 9, Nantes (5pm): Wales v Scotland;
Thursday, June 13, La Roche sur Yon (4.45pm): Wales v Argentina;
Play-Off rounds: Tuesday, June 18, Sunday, June 23.

Wales squad:
Forwards: Ellis Jenkins (captain, Blues/Cardiff), Nicky Smith (Ospreys/Swansea), Gareth Thomas (Scarlets/Carmarthen), Tom Davies (Blues/Cardiff), Dan Suter (Ospreys/Bridgend), Nicky Thomas (Ospreys/Swansea), Ethan Lewis (Blues/Cardiff), Elliot Dee (Dragons/Bedwas), Carwyn Jones (Scarlets/Carmarthen), Jack Jones (Ospreys/Rovigo), Rhodri Hughes (Ospreys/Swansea), Ieuan Jones (Dragons/Newport), Daniel Thomas (Scarlets/Llanelli), Sion Bennett (Scarlets/Carmarthen), James Benjamin (Dragons/Bedwas).

Backs: Rhodri Williams (Scarlets/Llandovery), Joshua Davies (Dragons/Bedwas), Harri Evans (North Wales/RGC), Sam Davies (Ospreys/Swansea), Steffan Hughes (Scarlets/Llanelli), Jack Dixon (Dragons/Bedwas), Thomas Pascoe (Blues/Pontypridd), Aaron Warren (Llandovery), Ashley Evans (Ospreys/Bridgend), Jordan Williams (Scarlets/Llanelli), Hallam Amos (Dragons/Bedwas), Dion Jones (Scarlets Academy/Llanelli), Owen Jenkins (Blues/Pontypridd).


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