INJURIES have forced Wales head coach Byron Hayward into making changes for this Friday evening’s U20 Six Nations clash against England at Castle Park in Doncaster. (KO 7pm, S4C)
Ealing Trailfinders’ Morgan Veness will make his first start at hooker while Joe Peard returns to replace his Dragons teammate Ryan Woodman in the second row, after Woodman and Cardiff Rugby hooker Efan Daniel were both ruled out through injury.
In the backline, there are two changes and a positional switch for Cameron Winnett who moves from full-back to wing. Ospreys’ Iestyn Hopkins makes his debut at full-back while Morgan Lloyd will make his first start at half-back ahead of Archie Hughes, who moves to the bench.
With England suffering a shock defeat to Italy in the last round, Hayward is expecting the home side to throw the kitchen sink at Wales as they try to get back to winning ways.
“They’ll be feeling like what we were after the Ireland game,” he said. “You’re going back home coming off the back of a defeat and you certainly want to put the score right and redress the balance.
“They are going to be physical and up for it but we hope we have picked a team prepared for that physical battle and stay in the fight and I think if we are in the game in the last 20 minutes anything could happen.”
After bouncing back from a heavy defeat to Ireland, the bonus-point victory against Scotland has proved bittersweet with the unavailability of Daniel and Woodman, who both figured prominently against the Scots.
“They are two boys with massive futures at different scales in terms of age,” said Hayward. “Efan is going to be a top class professional player and I’d say a full international no doubt. Ryan’s first game at U20 level as a 17-year-old – he had an exceptional debut so to lose both is a blow,” said Hayward before adding their absence now opens the door for others to stake a claim for a starting jersey.
“Joe [Peard] was very unhappy with his performance in the game against Ireland so the opportunity comes for him to redeem himself while the two nines will both be playing but maybe with different roles this time.
“With more experience in terms of age, Morgan [Lloyd] was a real calming influence when he came on against Scotland with three try assists. His decision making was very good, he was calm, and his game management was really good, so he gets a first start.
“The coaches agreed unanimously Iestyn [Hopkins] deserved a start. He has earned the jersey as he has been such a positive influence in training. He has trained exceptionally well and gone away and played for Swansea in the Premiership and even dropped down to Dunvant last week to get game time. He has earned the jersey purely by his attitude.”
Wales U20s v England U20s, Castle Park, Friday 25 Feb, KO 7pm
15 Iestyn Hopkins (Ospreys)
14 Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby)
13 Eddie James (Scarlets)
12 Joe Hawkins (Ospreys)
11 Harri Houston (Ospreys)
10 Jac Lloyd (Bristol Bears)
9 Morgan Lloyd (Dragons);
1 Rhys Barrett (Cardiff Met)
2 Morgan Veness (Ealing Trailfinders)
3 Adam Williams (Dragons)
4 Benji Williams (Ospreys)
5 Joe Peard (Dragons)
6 Tom Cowan (Bath Rugby)
7 Ethan Frackrell (Cardiff Rugby)
8 Alex Mann (Cardiff Rugby – Capt)
16 Connor Chapman (Dragons)
17 Joe Cowell (Cardiff Met)
18 Nathan Evans (Cardiff Rugby)
19 Lewis Jones (Ospreys)
20 Morgan Morse (Ospreys)
21 Archie Hughes (Scarlets)
22 Dan Edwards (Ospreys)
23 Joe Westwood (Dragons)