WALES U18s head coach Matt O’Brien has named his match day squad to take on England U18s at Taunton RFC tomorrow afternoon (KO 2pm).
The players go into the match knowing they are in pole position to press for selection in the Six Nations squad which will play England, France and Ireland next month in Marcoussis.
O’Brien admitted selection had been difficult as a number of players put their hand up for selection in training.
“There were tough calls across the board to be honest. The training standards have been high and there is a lot of strength in depth so there were tough calls in most positions but we’re really happy with the squad we have selected,’ he said.
“I’m hoping to see the brand of rugby we want to play transferred from training to the game. It is going to be the boys first international and I’m really looking forward to seeing them express themselves on the international stage.
“We are only allowed to take 26 players to Marcoussis so these boys are the lucky ones to have a first opportunity to showcase their talent before then.
“Unfortunately, we can’t pick everyone but these boys have got a chance to show what they can do and put themselves forward to get a spot in the Six Nations group. But at the same time there are boys who are not involved in this squad who will also be involved in the Six Nations. It’s not necessarily a case of all 25 playing against England will be involved in the Six Nations.”
England always pose a serious threat at age grade level and O’Brien is anticipating a stiff challenge against the red rose brigade tomorrow.
“We know what to expect,” he said, “They are going to be a big physical side – they are always good at age grade rugby. The boys are just looking forward to it, they have waited a long time to play international rugby and there is no better way to kick off their capped international careers against England.
“It’s also fantastic for the families that they will be able to come and watch. There has been a lot of behind closed doors rugby at all levels so it will be brilliant to have friends and family able to watch in what hopefully is a good crowd for the players.”
Wales U18s to play England U18s, Taunton RFC Sun 20 March, KO 2pm
15 Isaac Morgan (Ospreys)
14 Walker Price (Dragons)
13 Louie Hennessey (Cardiff Rugby/Hartpury)
12 Harri Ackerman (Dragons – Capt)
11 Tom Edwards (Scarlets)
10 Sam Berry (Dragons)
9 Orson James (Cardiff Rugby);
1 Ioan Emanuel (Cardiff Rugby)
2 Isaac Young (Scarlets)
3 Kian Hire (Ospreys)
4 Nick Thomas (Dragons)
5 Jonny Green (Harlequins)
6 Kenzie Jenkins (Cardiff Rugby)
7 Connor Lewis (Dragons)
8 Luca De La Rua (Cardiff Rugby)
16 Saul Hurley (Cardiff Rugby)
17 Josh Morse (Scarlets)
18 Connal Couch (Dragons)
19 Lewis Marsh (Ospreys)
20 Will Plessis (Scarlets)
21 Harri Beddall (Cardiff Rugby)
22 Rhodri Lewis (Ospreys)
23 Harri Wilde (Cardiff Rugby)
24 Macs Page (Scarlets)
25 Huw Anderson (Dragons)