England have named their U20 side to take on Wales in the Six Nations on Friday night at Zip World Stadium, Colwyn Bay.
The game kicks off at 7.05pm and will be shown live on S4C, and features a heavily changed England side, with a number of star players returning to their Gallagher Premiership clubs this weekend, including the likes of Marcus Smith and Tom Hardwick.
In total there are seven changes from the side that beat the reigning Six Nations and World Champions, France, last time out.
Up front Exeter Chiefs’ Alfie Petch comes in at tighthead, with Sale Sharks’ Nic Dolly and Gloucester’s Olly Adkins retaining their places alongside him in the front row.
The second row is unchanged, with Saracens’ Joel Kpoku and Northampton Saints’ Alex Coles alongside each other once again. The back row sees the second change in the pack, with Exeter Chiefs’ Richard Capstick coming in at blindside. Gloucester’s Aaron Hinkley stays at openside, with Wasps’ Tom Willis captaining the side from number 8.
There is an all new half back pairing at Yorkshire Carnegie’s Ollie Fox coming in at scrum half and Sale Sharks’ Kieran Wilkinson starting at fly half. The centre pairing is a new one too, with Bath’s Tom de Glanville, son of former England captain Phil, at inside centre and Sale Sharks’ Connor Doherty pairing up. Wilkinson, de Glanville, and Doherty all make their debuts.
Northampton Saints’ Ollie Sleightholme remains on the right wing, while London Irish’s Ollie Hassell-Collins comes in for his debut on the left wing, Newcastle Falcon Josh Hodge meanwhile returns at full back.
The bench sees Northampton Saints’ Samson Ma’asi, Worcester Warriors’ Kai Owen, and Gloucester’s Jack Bartlett cover the front row, with Worcester Warriors’ James Scott and Exeter Chiefs’ Rus Tuima covering the rest of the pack.
Exeter Chiefs’ Sam Maunder covers scrum half, with Saracens’ Manu Vunipola in line to come in at fly half, meanwhile Gloucester’s Jack Reeves will cover the rest of the backline.
Speaking to www.englandrugby.com ahead of the game, England U20 Head Coach Steve Bates said:
“Making so many changes provides a challenge for the coaches but this is where the training we did with the wider squad in December and January pays dividends.”
“This is a huge opportunity for those players coming in to show how talented they are and stake a claim for future selection. We had an impressive win against France, and the players that have come in since that victory have trained well and we have confidence in them to build on that victory.”
“We know Friday is going to be a huge challenge, it is away in Wales and we are expecting a hostile atmosphere but the players should relish that. We’d like to see a combination of the two performances we have had in the tournament. We want to see the forward dominance we saw against France, while also playing with the fluidity we had against Ireland and then manage the game appropriately.”
England U20 XV v Wales – Friday, 7.05pm, Zip World Stadium (Live on S4C)
15 Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons), 14 Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints), 13 Connor Doherty (Sale Sharks), 12 Tom de Glanville (Bath), 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish), 10 Kieran Wilkinson (Sale Sharks), 9 Ollie Fox (Yorkshire Carnegie), 1 Olly Adkins (Gloucester), 2 Nic Dolly (Sale Sharks), 3 Alfie Petch (Exeter Chiefs), 4 Joel Kpoku (Saracens), 5 Alex Coles (Northampton Saints), 6 Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs), 7 Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester), 8 Tom Willis (Wasps, captain).
Replacements: 16 Samson Ma’asi (Northampton Saints), 17 Kai Owen (Worcester Warriors), 18 Jack Bartlett (Gloucester), 19 James Scott (Worcester Warriors), 20 Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs), 21 Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs), 22 Manu Vunipola (Saracens), 23 Jack Reeves (Gloucester).
England U20 Six Nations Fixtures:
Round 1: Ireland 35-27 England
Round 2: England 31-19 France
Round 3: Wales – Friday 22nd Feb, 7.05pm, ZipWorld Stadium, Colwyn Bay (live on S4C)
Round 4: Italy – Friday 8th Mar, 7.45pm, Goldington Road, Bedford (live on Sky Sports)
Round 5: Scotland – Friday 15th Mar, 7.45pm, Franklin’s Gardens (live on Sky Sports)