DRAGONS lock Nick Thomas returns to the starting line-up for Wales’ Under-20s Six Nations trip to Grand Slam-chasing Ireland on Friday (kick-off 7.15pm).

The 6ft 5ins second rower, 18, started in the opening weekend 37-29 win against Scotland before dropping to the bench for the 28-7 loss to England at Bath.

Thomas is back in the XV to join four other Dragons – captain and centre Harri Ackerman, full-back Huw Anderson, and wings Walker Price and Harry Rees-Weldon.

Their club teammate Jordan Morris will make another appearance at loosehead off the bench along with Ebbw Vale back rower Owen Conquer.

Thomas returns as part of a pack rejig to allow influential Ospreys number eight Morgan Morse to be rested in Cork. Osian Thomas switches to blindside flanker with Cardiff’s Lucas de la Rua taking Morse’s spot.

“Looking at what is best for Morgan’s long-term development along with the high volume of rugby he has already played this season we have planned, along with the Ospreys, for him to have a break,” said head coach Richard Whiffin.

“This will enable him the best opportunity to be in peak condition to perform for both us and the Ospreys for the remainder of season and into the summer.”

South Wales Argus: TALENT: Dragons wing Harry Rees-Weldon on the charge for Wales Under-20s against EnglandTALENT: Dragons wing Harry Rees-Weldon on the charge for Wales Under-20s against England (Image: PA)

Anderson, Rees-Weldon and Price make up the back three again with Whiffin hoping the Dragons trio can provide a cutting edge on the artificial surface at Musgrave Park.

“They’re offering a real threat in the wide channels, and we showed a lot of clips in our review against England where we created really good opportunities,” he said.

“We need to be a little more clinical on finishing them - but I think the backline offers us a real dangerous threat.

“We know we can threaten teams and put them under pressure – it’s just the ability to do it for the full 80 and it would be great to get a scalp over in Ireland.”

Wales give starts to Scarlets loosehead Josh Morse and Midlands Central tighthead Sam Scott, who did well off the bench against the Scots and English.

Ireland are two from two after they won 37-31 in France and then edged out Italy 23-22 in Cork thanks to a late score.

“Italy got under Ireland’s skin a little bit and rattled them and really forced them into changing how they played,” said the Wales boss.

“They were a lot of more a kicking threat in the last 20 minutes and almost strangled the game away from Italy, whereas in the first 40 to 50 minutes they tried to play their way out.”

Wales Under-20s: Huw Anderson (Dragons); Harry Rees-Weldon (Dragons), Louie Hennessey (Bath), Harri Ackerman (Dragons – captain), Walker Price (Dragons); Harri Wilde (Cardiff), Ieuan Davies (Bath); Josh Morse (Scarlets), Harry Thomas (Scarlets), Sam Scott (Midlands Central), Jonny Green (Harlequins), Nick Thomas (Dragons), Osian Thomas (Leicester Tigers), Harry Beddall (Leicester Tigers), Lucas de la Rua (Cardiff Rugby).

Replacements: Will Austin (Sale Sharks), Jordan Morris (Dragons), Kian Hire (Ospreys), Owen Conquer (Ebbw Vale), Will Plessis (Scarlets), Rhodri Lewis (Ospreys), Harri Ford (RGC), Macs Page (Scarlets).