Coach Richard Webster ready for Wales U20 test

Richard Webster
Webster has taken over as Wales coach from Darren Edwards

Wales Under-20 coach Richard Webster has named a 26-man squad for this summer's Junior World Championship expecting a physical test in Italy.

Webster takes his players into three testing pool matches in June.

"We know we will be tested physically against all three of our pool opponents - Argentina, New Zealand and Italy," said Webster.

"However, we have fronted up in that respect against both England and France this season."

There are three uncapped players in the squad with Scarlets academy and Llanelli three-quarters Dale Ford and Iolo Evans making the cut, along with Newport and Dragons academy utility back Lewis Robling.

Macauley Cook retains the captaincy of the side following his leadership of the side during the recent Six Nations campaign.

And Webster, who has taken over from Darren Edwards following his appointment as Newport Gwent Dragons head coach, said it was a difficult selection process.

"As a management team, it was a hard job to narrow down the squad to 26," admitted Webster.

"The team played so well during the Six Nations - they did everything that was asked of them - and it was always going to be hard to leave some players out.

"We had to look at versatility, especially in the backline, and that, along with some impressive recent performances helped Iolo Evans, Dale Ford and Lewis Robling to secure three of the final places.

"With five matches in 16 days, it is important to have the right mix within the group.

"The players showed their character throughout the Six Nations on and off the field, and I'm sure that will help them in the testing environment of an international competition.

"However, our intention is to go out there and play rugby.

"The grounds will be hard and we will need to move the ball around and score some tries if we are to progress to the upper end of the positions at the end of the competition.

"Argentina is a key game first up. They will no doubt have a physical pack and a big scrum mentality but hopefully we can move them about and get some points on the board ahead of the New Zealand game.

"Against France and England, we showed we had the ability to compete, just falling short of winning those games.

"But we will certainly have to step up our game again against New Zealand - it's important we get something out of that game.

"Then we have Italy who we beat in the Six Nations away from home, but they will be keen to do well as tournament hosts.

"We have two or three sessions a week together now until we leave on June 6 and with the Principality Premiership play-offs, some players won't get a break, but we are looking forward to getting re-acquainted with the boys and getting to know the new players."

Wales open their campaign against Argentina on Friday, 10 June in Padua followed by New Zealand on 14 June in Rovigo and then Italy in Trevuiso on 18 June.

Wales Under-20 Junior World Championship squad:

Backs: Liam Williams (Llanelli), Harry Robinson (Blues/Cardiff), Eli Walker (Ospreys/Swansea), Dale Ford (Scarlets/Llanelli), Owen Williams (Blues/Cardiff), Adam Warren (Llandovery), Iolo Evans (Scarlets/ Llanelli) Steve Shingler (Scarlets/Llanelli), Matthew Morgan (Ospreys/Swansea), Lewis Robling (Dragons/Newport), Lewis Jones (Blues/Pontypridd), Jonathan Evans (Dragons/Newport).

Forwards: Rhodri Jones (Scarlets/Llanelli), Lewis Smout (Blues/Pontypridd), Will Taylor (Ospreys/Swansea), WillGriff John (Blues/Pontypridd), Kirby Myhill (Scarlets/Llanelli), Sam Parry (Llandovery), Cory Hill (Blues/Pontypridd), Macauley Cook (Blues/Cardiff), Luke Hamilton (Blues/Glamorgan Wanderers), Lloyd Peers (Ospreys/Bridgend), Edward Siggery (Pontypridd), Thomas Young (Blues/Cardiff), Ben Thomas (Ospreys/Bridgend), Owen Sheppeard (Blues/Pontypridd).

Standby players: Trystan Davies (Scarlets/Carmarthen Quins), Ieuan Davies (Cardiff), Matthew Screech (Blues/Pontypridd), Calum Thomas (Blues/Pontypridd), Matthew Torrance (Ospreys/Tonmawr), Joseff Griffin (Blues/Cardiff), Rheon James (Scarlets/Carmarthen Quins), Ross Jones (Ospreys/Bridgend).