Whiffin Happy With Wales u/20 Preparations For Six Nations


New Wales U20 head coach Richard Whiffin will get another chance to see his squad in action for a second weekend in a row when they play a behind-closed-doors friendly in preparation for their Six Nations u/20 kick-off against Scotland in a fortnight’s time.

Whiffin was pleased to see his side come from behind to beat an Aberavon XV at the Talbot Athletic Ground last weekend. Having changed ends 21-15 in arrears, they eventually ran out 42-33 victors, with Walker Price and Gabe MacDonald coring in the first half and Will Plessis, Lucca Setaro, Kodi Stone and Iori Badham added further scores after the break.

A number of players were unable to play for Whiffin’s side because of other commitments and he will once again be without last season’s u/20 skipper Ryan Woodman and teenage centre Harri Ackerman, who are both playing for the Dragons in the EPCR Challenge Cup against Sharks.

Also missing is Ospreys No. 8 Morgan Morse, who is once again on duty for the regional team in South Africa this weekend, where he is in the back row to face the Lions in the fourth round of the Challenge Cup.

“The game at Aberavon was a really good fixture for us, a real step up for a few of the players. There were seven or eight players who couldn’t play because they were involved with their regions or playing for clubs over the bridge, so we’ve still got a few boys to come in,” said Whiffin.

“Last week’s and this week’s training games will give us a great chance to look at those players who have been training hard with us in recent weeks. They executed the game plan we wanted against Aberavon.

“The most pleasing thing for me was how we rallied after coming through a very difficult first 20 minutes. Aberavon came at us very physically and we conceded two soft tries.

“Then we had a couple of very good defensive sets and settled into the game. We started to slow down their possession, became more aggressive in defence and went on to score some lovely tries.

“In the end, 30 players got some good game time, and they found a way to win.”

Wales u/20 kick-off their championship campaign against Scotland in Colwyn Bay on Friday, 2 February. Whiffin heads a new coaching team that includes Sam Hobbs, Scott Sneddon and Richie Pugh.

“It was great having Warren Gatland and Rob Howley at the game underlining the alignment we have with the senior management. Now we’re really looking forward to ripping into the Six Nations,” added Whiffin.

“We’ve got to have in mind what the overall goal for the pathway is and that is for us to create consistent regional players that then push through into the international team.

“If we get guys that might make that jump straight away from u/20s to international then even better, but realistically we’ve got to get guys coming out of this system that can go back to their regions and clubs, as there are plenty that are playing over the bridge and start playing at men’s senior professional level.

“That’s the big goal for us and anything on top of that international-wise is a bonus.”

Wales u/20 Matchday Squad vs Aberavon
Backs: Ieuan Davies, Lucca Setaro, Harri Wilde, Harri Ford, Walker Price, Kodi Stone, Macs Page, Gabriel McDonald, Cam Davies, Harry Rees-Weldon, Matty Young, Iroi Badham, Huw Anderson, Scott Delnevo.

Forwards: Jordan Morris, Harry Thomas, Sam Scott, Lewis Marsh, Nick Thomas, Tal Taylor, Harri Beddall, Celt Francis Roberts, Evan Wood, Will Austin, Will Couch, Kian Hire, Gethyn Cannon, Tom Golder, William Plessis, Owen Conquer.