Kingsley Jones: Dragons won't rush bright Wales U20s prospects
9:48am Thursday 19th June 2014 in Sport
ONLY South Africa's Blue Bulls, the Waratahs of Australia and Ireland's Leinster can eclipse Newport Gwent Dragons' tally of players at the Junior World Championship but head coach Kingsley Jones has pledged not to rush their Wales Under-20s contingent.
Ten members of Byron Hayward's squad will be on the Rodney Parade region's books next season, a tally that could have been boosted by the selection of full cap Hallam Amos.
The Dragons have provided more players than their three regional rivals at the tournament for the first time but Jones has moved to cool expectations ahead of the 2014/15 season.
"To see so many Dragons representing Wales is really positive and we know that if five or six of those guys come through to be regulars it will be an achievement," he said.
"It's part of the reason why I decided to commit to a three-year deal here because part of the challenge is keeping hold of them, developing them and supporting them with quality experienced players.
"We've tried to do that with our summer signings because we want to make sure they don't get bullied and get used to losing.
"It's exciting for those guys coming through and shows there is a pathway here. That's great and will put pressure on the 24 and 25-year-olds who know that young players are coming after their place."
Seven of the Dragons contingent have already played regional rugby – hooker Elliot Dee (13 games), lock Joe Davies (2), back row forwards James Benjamin (2) and Scott Matthews (3), scrum-half Luc Jones (4), centre Jack Dixon (33) and centre/wing Tyler Morgan (5).
Prop Luke Garrett, lock Scott Andrews and fly-half Angus O'Brien will hope to follow their lead but Jones says most of the young guns will have to be patient.
He said: "Jack and Hallam will definitely get a lot of rugby again next season, I expect Tyler to as well while Elliot has an opportunity to push to be number two at least behind Rhys Thomas.
"It all depends on injuries but I'd expect the likes of James Benjamin and Scott Matthews to be drip fed into it at the right time, getting experience and certainly featuring in the LV= Cup.
"We have players with great potential in our squad but recognise the need to be careful with them."