NINE young Dragons feature in a 32-man Wales squad for this year’s U20 Six Nations, which gets under way on the first weekend in February.

In the forwards, there are places for Taine Basham, Tom Devine, Will Griffiths and Ed Scragg, as well as former Chepstow youth player Nick English, now with Bristol.

Behind the pack, Dafydd Buckland, Aneurin Owen, Tom Hoppe, Deon Smith and Rio Dyer make the cut as head coach Gareth Williams has one eye on the Junior World Championship in Argentina in June.

The squad includes 13 players who have already gained experience at U20 level, captain Tommy Reffell among them, while Dragons centre Owen and Leicester fly-half Sam Costelow were the standout performers from last year’s U18s.

“I’ve been really impressed with the boys’ attitude and not just the players who have been successful in making the squad,” said Williams, who is in his first campaign as head coach.

“We’ve also got an injured group of players and a training group as well as the Six Nations squad and all have been exemplary.

“We’ve had three camps with 60 players and the competitive nature of all ensures no-one can rest on their laurels as competition for places across the board has been intense.

“All of the coaching group, which includes Dai Flanagan (attack), Richard Kelly (forwards) and Andrew Bishop (defence) were mightily impressed by the effort the boys put in and we’re all now eagerly waiting to get the campaign under way in France.”

Wales begin their championship against junior world champions France at Stade de la Rabine in Vannes on Sunday, February 3 before facing Italy a week later.

Their first home game at Stadiwm Zip World in Colwyn Bay is in the third round of action, on Friday, February 22, when they host England.

Wales travel to Scotland in the fourth round before completing their campaign against visiting Ireland on Friday, March 15.

Wales U20 squad for Six Nations – Forwards: Tom Devine (Dragons), Rhys Davies (Ospreys), Ben Warren (Cardiff Blues), Kemsley Mathias (Scarlets), Nick English (Bristol Bears), Dewi Lake (Ospreys), Cameron Lewis (Cardiff Blues), Will Griffiths (Dragons), Jac Price (Scarlets), Teddy Williams (Cardiff Blues), Morgan Jones (Scarlets), Ed Scragg (Dragons), Iestyn Rees (Scarlets), Ellis Thomas (Llanelli RFC), Tommy Reffell (capt) (Leicester), Jac Morgan (Scarlets), Taine Basham (Dragons).

Backs: Harri Morgan (Ospreys), Jamie Hill (Cardiff Blues), Dafydd Buckland (Dragons), Cai Evans (Ospreys), Sam Costelow (Leicester), Aneurin Owen (Dragons), Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler (Ospreys), Tom Hoppe (Dragons), Dewi Cross (Ospreys), Deon Smith (Dragons), Caine Woolerton (Ospreys), Rio Dyer (Dragons), Alex Morgan (Gloucester), Tomi Lewis (Scarlets), Ioan Davies (Cardiff Blues).