UNSUNG hero Dafydd Buckland is ready to kick on in the Six Nations after the hard-working Dragons scrum-half answered Wales Under-20s' SOS last season, believes his boss Gareth Williams.

The 19-year-old is one of the Rodney Parade region's five-strong contingent that will take to the field against Italy in the tournament opener in Colwyn Bay this evening (kick-off 7.35pm).

Buckland and centre Aneurin Owen are in the XV after featuring in the 2019 Six Nations and Junior World Championship.

The half-back, playing for Newport this season, shouldered a heavy burden in Argentina last summer when Ospreys prospect Harri Morgan was laid low with a virus after the opener against the hosts.

That led to Buckland getting plenty of minutes with Williams expecting the scrum-half to reap the rewards in the 2020 tournaments.

South Wales Argus:

"Daf was fantastic for us last season, he might not get the headlines but he allows our team to operate," said the head coach.

"He was superb during that Junior World Cup and has continued that in camp. He has a terrific skill set and it will be good to see him, in a year where he is more established, kick on from that.

"Nobody works harder on their game than Daf, so he deserves everything that he gets.

"We consciously took two scrum-halves to the Junior World Cup because of the squad size and then lost Harri to a virus after the first game.

"Daf's robustness and ability to go again was superb, and that's without talking about the quality that he delivers. He allows that team to operate and is integral to releasing our outside backs.

"Aneurin's quality shines whenever he takes to the field or you interact with him and Daf is exactly the same."

At the other end of the scale, lock Ben Carter and wing Ewan Rosser are poised for their Under-20s debuts in Colwyn Bay.

South Wales Argus:

Carter (pictured above at last year's Argus Sports Awards) captained both Wales and the Dragons at under-18s level last season and while Rosser, brother of Dragons speedster Jared, gets the nod after impressing with Ebbw Vale in the Premiership.

"Ben did really well as captain of the 18s last year and we have a lot of regard for him. His level of professionalism, understanding of the game and work ethic is fantastic," said Williams.

"It's something that the coaches keep highlighting how impressive he is and he is in good company alongside Jac Price, who went through a lot last season in his first year at under-20 level.

"There is an opportunity with Teddy Williams and Ed Scragg out injured but Ben has really put his hand up and we are excited about him.

"We've spoken about playing him at six as well because he has got that athletic ability as well as being a good set piece operator; he will call our lineouts against Italy because he has shown a real initiative to do that."

"I have watched Ewan a lot in the Premiership, especially in the early part of the season, and he did well in difficult circumstances at times," continued Williams.

"He has put his hand up whether in training, in the camps or with what he has done in the Premiership or Celtic Cup. We are excited to work with him and move his game forward."

The fifth and final Dragon in the squad for the opening weekend is Will Griffiths with the hooker set to wear 2 rather than tonight's 16 in upcoming rounds.

"Will was very unlucky from a selection point of view. He backed up Dewi Lake all season and there is nothing to split him and (starter) Dom Booth," said Williams.

"He will get his opportunities in the coming weeks and it was a difficult conversation with him, because he has been playing well at Premiership level (with Ebbw Vale) and we know what he delivers when he comes into camp."

Wales will use the Six Nations to build to the summer when they have been grouped with New Zealand, Australia and Georgia in the Junior World Championship in Italy.

Wales U20 v Italy: Josh Thomas (Ospreys), Dan John (Millfield School), Osian Knott (Scarlets), Aneurin Owen (Dragons), Ewan Rosser (Dragons), Sam Costelow (Leicester Tigers), Dafydd Buckland (Dragons), Callum Williams (Scarlets), Dom Booth (Scarlets), Ben Warren (Cardiff Blues), Jac Price (Scarlets), Ben Carter (Dragons), Ioan Davies (Cardiff Blues), Jac Morgan (Scarlets, captain), Morgan Strong (Ospreys).

Replacements: Will Griffiths (Dragons), Theo Bevacqua (Cardiff Blues), Archie Griffin (Bath Rugby), James Fender (Ospreys), Travis Huntley (Ospreys), Ellis Bevan (Cardiff Met), Luke Scully (Worcester), Bradley Roderick (Ospreys).