3:27pm Monday 13th January 2014
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons pair Hallam Amos and Jack Dixon are likely to boost Wales' challenge in the closing stages of the Under-20s Six Nations, writes Chris Kirwan.
The talented full-back and centre are currently sidelined by ankle and foot injuries respectively but are scheduled to be back by the time the Welsh young guns lock horns with England and Scotland.
Those March encounters do not clash with regional games so full cap Amos and Dixon are likely to bolster a sizeable Dragons contingent.
Head coach Byron Hayward yesterday named eight players from the Rodney Parade region in his Six Nations squad – hooker Elliot Dee, lock Joe Davies, back row forwards Scott Matthews, Ollie Griffiths and James Benjamin, scrum-half Luc Jones, fly-half Ethan Davies and wing Ashton Hewitt.
No region has more players included than the Dragons and the region's contingent is likely to be boosted by call-ups for Amos, Dixon and centre Tyler Morgan, who suffered a slight hip injury in under-20s training.
"Hallam may play a part in the latter part of the Six Nations and certainly the Junior World Championship, and the same goes for Jack," said Hayward.
"Every year that I have been involved with the Under-20s players that have come into our environment from a regional one have added to it.
"They bring not just their ability but their professionalism; they set the standards with the way that they conduct themselves."
Wales will be looking to finally get the better of England after suffering double heartbreak in 2013.
They were denied both a Grand Slam and the Six Nations title when beaten in Colwyn Bay before being edged out in the final of the Junior World Championship.
But Hayward stresses that success in the global tournament, which is in New Zealand this summer, remains their main target rather than European glory.
"The Six Nations is about improving the depth of the squad and giving players opportunities," he said.
"The Junior World Championship is very intense and you won't get anywhere with 15 or 22 players. You need a strong squad that you have the confidence to pick from.
"The Six Nations is a pre-season for us, albeit a very important pre-season and we will be going out to win every single game that we play.
"But the bigger picture is the World Cup and we need to expose as many players as we can to international rugby.
"Two of the Six Nations teams (Ireland and France) are in our group and this will be a good benchmark."
Wales Under-20s squad
Backs: Tom Williams (Blues), Luc Jones (Dragons), Connor Lloyd (Scarlets), Luke Price (Ospreys), Ethan Davies (Dragons), Steffan Hughes (Scarlets), Garyn Smith (Blues), Harri Evans (RGC 1404), Aled Summerhill (Blues), Joshua Adams (Scarlets), Dafydd Howells (Ospreys), Ashton Hewitt (Dragons), Steffan Evans (Scarlets), Afon Bagshaw (RGC 1404)
Forwards: Nicky Smith, Nicky Thomas (both Ospreys), Leon Crump, Callum Lewis, (both Blues), Benjamin Leung (Scarlets), Ethan Lewis (Blues), Elliot Dee (Dragons), Scott Otten (Swansea), James Sheekey (Blues), Shaun O'Rourke (Ospreys), Joshua Helps (Scarlets), Joe Davies (Dragons), Will Boyde (Carmarthen Quins), Rob Dudley-Jones (Swansea), Scott Matthews, Ollie Griffiths, James Benjamin (all Dragons)
Wales v Italy: Friday, January 31
Ireland v Wales: Friday, February 7
Wales v France: Saturday, February 22
England v Wales: Friday, March 7
Wales v Scotland: Friday, March 14
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