WALES Under-20s are looking for Dragons tyro Taine Basham to lead the charge when they start their Six Nations campaign against world champions France.

The Welsh prospects face a daunting opener tomorrow against Les Bleuets, who won the 2018 tournament and then went on to win the World Rugby U20 Championship on home soil.

Head coach Gareth Williams gives debuts to eight players, including centres Aneurin Owen and Tom Hoppe plus wing Deon Smith from the Dragons.

Of those that have already tasted international rugby at under-20 level, Basham will be a key figure against a powerful France side in Vannes (kick-off 2pm).

The 19-year-old from Talywain was prominent in last season's disappointing campaign, has made seven regional outings and became a Wales Sevens international in Dubai and South Africa at the end of last year.

"Taine was excellent for the 20s last year, always shows up well when given opportunities at the Dragons and the sevens will give him a positive spike in his development," said Williams.

"We've developed some of the squad from a leadership point of view and there is an expectation on Taine now that he's one of the senior boys.

"France are the world champions and we need to take the game to them – there is nobody better for that than Taine.

"He has got that abrasive approach and is fantastic with the ball, which is what we are going to need.

"Taine is a real handful and his footwork is superb, which helps him manage the collisions, while he has that desire to provide go-forward."

Pressure will be on the Wales pack to match their strong French counterparts, with the Dragons trio behind hoping to get plenty of ball in hand.

"They are an exciting group," said Williams. "Aneurin operates in midfield so well and is very mature for someone who only played his first senior game this season.

"He has got a good head on his shoulders and we are really excited to see if he can put his game onto the Six Nations park.

"Tom Hoppe is a good operator and I have enjoyed watching him. He has trained exceptionally and has been playing well for Bedwas along with Deon, who is an exciting, robust player on the wing and also an option at centre."

Wales have picked another pair of Dragons on the bench – hooker Will Griffiths and lock Ed Scragg – and Williams said another Rodney Parade prospect is unlucky to only be travelling reserve.

Dafydd Buckland, who has been with Cross Keys this season, misses out with Ospreys livewire Harri Morgan getting the start.

"Dafydd is travelling reserve and is very unlucky to miss out on the matchday squad," said Williams about the 18-year-old.

"Scrum-half is an area of strength with Harri Morgan coming into the starting line-up and Jamie Hill playing well in the Premiership (with Pontypridd).

"Dafydd has been superb and is definitely one to look out for. We want competition and he will get his chance."

Wales U20s: Ioan Davies (Cardiff Blues), Tomi Lewis (Scarlets), Tom Hoppe (Dragons), Aneurin Owen (Dragons), Deon Smith (Dragons), Cai Evans (Ospreys), Harri Morgan (Ospreys); Rhys Davies (Ospreys), Dewi Lake (Ospreys), Ben Warren (Cardiff Blues), Teddy Williams (Cardiff Blues), Jac Price (Scarlets), Tommy Reffell (Leicester, captain) Jac Morgan (Aberavon/Scarlets), Taine Basham (Dragons).

Replacements: Will Griffiths (Dragons), Kemsley Mathias (Scarlets), Nick English (Bristol Bears), Ed Scragg (Dragons), Ellis Thomas (Llanelli), Jamie Hill (Cardiff Blues), Sam Costelow (Leicester), Joe Roberts (Scarlets).