7:06am Wednesday 19th March 2014
JAMES Benjamin says Newport Gwent Dragons' sizeable Wales Under-20s contingent are fuelled by the dream of following in the footsteps of Hallam Amos and Jack Dixon.
The 20-year-old back row forward from Rogerstone is one of 13 Gwent youngsters that featured for the Wales young guns in the Six Nations so far this year.
Benjamin has had a taste of regional rugby with a pair of LV= Cup appearances against London Wasps and Northampton but has seen 19-year-olds Amos and Dixon become Dragons mainstays.
The pair, who are eligible for this summer's Junior World Championships, have played in a combined total of 57 regional games.
Wing/full-back Amos' exploits earned a senior Wales cap against Tonga in the autumn internationals and it's likely that centre Dixon would have joined him on the Test scene were it not for a foot injury.
Benjamin featured alongside the pair in last year's Junior World Championship and says their success is an incentive to their Dragons colleagues.
"We've got a strong academy and it's credit to the region to have so many of us with the Under-20s," said the back row forward.
"We've seen Jack and Hallam push on and we want to follow in their footsteps and break into the Dragons team.
"It's a massive boost to the confidence to see them getting opportunities with the Dragons and Hallam even getting a chance with Wales.
"It tells you that if you keep your head down and keep working hard then it might be your time soon so it's great to have the chance to show what you can do with the Under-20s."
The Under-20s, like the Wales seniors, finished third in the Six Nations and will now head back to their regions and clubs in a bid to earn selection for the Junior World Championships in New Zealand.
"We have gone through a steep learning curve over the last couple of months and learnt a lot of lessons which will be key as we look to select our squad for the Junior World Championship and prepare for that tournament," said Under-20s head coach Byron Hayward.
The Dragons' 13 that featured in the Six Nations: wing Ashton Hewitt, wing/centre Tyler Morgan, centre Jack Dixon, fly-half Angus O'Brien, fly-half Ethan Davies, scrum-half Luc Jones, prop Luke Garrett, hooker Elliot Dee, lock Scott Andrews, lock Joe Davies, flanker Ollie Griffiths, flanker Scott Matthews, back row James Benjamin.
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