SIX Dragons have been named in the Wales squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship with forward Ryan Woodman chosen as captain.
The lock/flanker, who made his senior debut for the Rodney Parade club against Pau last December and also featured at Leinster, retains the captaincy after leading the way in the Six Nations.
He is joined in the 30-strong squad for the tournament in South Africa by loosehead Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths, hooker Sam Scarfe, scrum-half Che Hope, centre Joe Westwood and uncapped wing/full-back Huw Anderson.
Wing Oli Andrew and centre Harri Ackerman miss out through injury after impressing in the Six Nations.
“It’s a very mixed team in terms of youth and experience,” said Jones, who has previously coached the senior Wales backs, the Scarlets, Rotherham Titans, RGC, Namibia, Crusaders and Worcester Warriors.
“There are a lot of exciting players in there particularly around our backline and back row. There is also a lot of potential in the front five.”
Wales lost all five games in the 2023 Six Nations, a year after having a solitary success.
They will be huge underdogs for the opener against New Zealand, a game that can set the tone for the tournament.
“When you are playing a New Zealand team it’s a good measure of where you are – your potential as an individual and as a team,” said Jones.
“We also know the French are very strong in the Six Nations. They picked up some terrific victories, they gave us a good hiding in that tournament and Japan is one of the fasting rising nations in world rugby so they are going to be a very difficult opponent as well.”
Jones added: “We just want to be better than what we were in the Six Nations around our performance levels.
“If we get the improvements in the areas we have targeted then I think the results will reflect that.
“We’re looking to improve individually and collectively and that will hopefully give us the best chance of results. None of us are going out there not to win games of rugby.”
Wales face New Zealand on Saturday, June 24 (kick-off 3pm), Japan on Thursday, June 29 (kick-off 1pm) and the French on Tuesday, July 4 before the placing play-offs.
Forwards: Josh Morse (Scarlets), Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths (Dragons RFC), Lewis Lloyd (Ospreys), Sam Scarfe (Dragons RFC), Lewis Morgan (Scarlets), Louis Fletcher (Ospreys), Ellis Fackrell (Ospreys), Kian Hire* (Ospreys), Liam Edwards (Ospreys), Evan Hill* (Ospreys), Mackenzie Martin (Cardiff Rugby), Jonny Green (Harlequins), Ryan Woodman (Dragons RFC), Morgan Morse (Ospreys), Lucas De la Rua (Cardiff Rugby), Seb Driscoll* (Harlequins), Gwilym Evans (Cardiff Rugby).
Backs: Archie Hughes (Scarlets), Harri Williams (Scarlets), Che Hope (Dragons RFC), Dan Edwards (Ospreys), Harri Wilde* (Cardiff Rugby), Bryn Bradley (Harlequins), Joe Westwood (Dragons RFC), Tom Florence (Ospreys), Louie Hennessey (Bath Rugby), Harri Houston (Ospreys), Huw Anderson* (Dragons RFC), Llien Morgan (Ospreys), Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby).
*Uncapped at U20