Wales’ 50 young talents who could be the future amid succession planning
Wayne Pivac has one eye on the future of Welsh rugby, no doubt. Along with present and past Wales U20s coaches, he has sat down to draw up a list of some 50 to 60 young players who could become senior internationals one day. The majority of them are aged between 18 to 22, so using that as the parameter we have come up with 50 uncapped kids who could be in Pivac’s plans going forward:
BACK THREE Theo Cabango The younger brother of Swansea and Wales football star Ben Cabango, 20-year-old Theo made a big impact on the wing with Cardiff last season, scoring four tries, including real crackers against Harlequins and Glasgow.
Iwan Stephens Born in Leeds, he has represented England U20s but is still eligible to play for Wales like his four-cap dad Colin before him. This rugby league convert, who plays on the wing, signed a new two-year deal with Newcastle in April.
Read more: Wales rugby team sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau for the first time in response to All Blacks haka in stunning footage Immanuel Feyi-Waboso Had been hoping to study medicine at Cardiff University and continue his progress at the Arms Park, having made his regional debut at 17, but he wasn’t offered a place, so ended up enrolling at Aston University in Birmingham and signing for Wasps.
Cameron Winnett Caught the eye at full-back for Wales U20s in the recent summer series, showing off his quick feet and counter-attacking threat. Made a try-scoring debut for Cardiff in the Champions Cup clash with Harlequins at The Stoop back in December.
Harri Doel Started out with his hometown club Llandovery and had an extended spell with the Scarlets academy. Signed for Worcester on loan in 2020 and was handed a permanent deal the following year, impressing on the wing.
Dan John The son of former Pontypridd and Wales scrum-half Paul John, versatile 20-year-old Dan signed a three-year deal with Exeter after completing his studies at Millfield School. Rio Dyer
One of the quickest players on the circuit, the Newport-born wing already has 30 games and seven tries under his belt for the Dragons, but he is still only 22. Oli Andrew Labelled “absolutely outstanding” by Wales U20s coach Byron Hayward after his two-try display in June’s victory over Scotland in Treviso.
Part of the Dragons academy. Jacob Beetham This classy full-back from Brecon was a key figure in Cardiff RFC’s Premiership title triumph and made a fine regional debut against Toulouse in December.
Harri Houston A product of Loughor RFC, the Ospreys winger is really hard to pin down with his elusive running. Now has eight Wales U20s caps to his name.
Joe Hawkins Mature beyond his years, as he has shown with his assured displays for the Ospreys and the way he has skippered Wales U20s this summer. Reads the game so well as befits someone who has rugby in the blood, with his dad David having played in the centre for Aberavon, Carmarthen Quins and Tonmawr and uncle Dan a former scrum-half for Swansea, Neath and Bonymaen.
Mason Grady Partnered Hawkins in midfield in the U20s summer series and he too comes from sporting stock, with his mother Julie having represented Wales in basketball and elder brother Cory Allen having done the same in rugby. At 6ft 5ins and 17st 4lbs he is some physical specimen.
Max Llewellyn The son of former Wales second row Gareth Llewellyn, he’s not quite as tall as his dad but at 6ft 5ins he’s another towering centre on Cardiff’s books. Has been hampered by injury, but last season he got a run of games and showed just how potent he can be with his strength and his angles of running.
Eddie James Another sizeable presence at 6ft 4in and well over 16st, the strong-running former Coleg Sir Gar student, who is on the books at the Scarlets, headed out to New Zealand to gain experience playing for Christchurch club Linwood in May. Aneurin Owen
His progress was stalled by the broken ankle he suffered in March, but there is no doubting the talent of the Newport product whose background as a fly-half comes through with his decision-making, kicking and ability to put people into space. Bryn Bradley Having begun his rugby with Cobham RFC in Surrey, he was then snapped up by Harlequins.
Part of the Exiles programme, he was drafted into the Wales U20s set-up last summer. Louie Hennessey After a couple of years with the Cardiff academy, the teenage centre has signed a contract at Bath, where he will be studying at university.
Osian Knott Tall and rangy, the centre from Carmarthen, who has switched from the Scarlets to the Ospreys, is a strong carrier who can truck it up but also has a sound all-round game. HALF-BACKS
Sam Costelow Having demonstrated his huge potential for Wales U20s, the Pencoed product had to bide his time in his first season with the Scarlets after arriving from Leicester but he really began to flourish last term. Jac Lloyd
The younger brother of Welsh international and Bristol club colleague Ioan, who he followed in moving from Cardiff and studying at Clifton College. Featured at fly-half for Wales U20s during this year’s Six Nations. Will Reed
Really caught the eye with his performances for the Dragons towards the end of last season. A chunky, calm No.
10 who plays flat to the line and is a real student of the game, as befits someone who is already coaching aged just 20, with Cwmbran U15s. Dan Edwards
Fly-half for Wales U20s during the summer series, the Ospreys teenager was with Aberavon last season and was named both their young player of the year and most improved player. Morgan Lloyd The livewire Dragons scrum-half acts as a real catalyst with the tempo be brings via his service and sniping.
Particularly impressive with his try-scoring display for Wales U20s against Scotland in June. Ellis Bevan Born and raised in Solihull, he attended Bryanston school in Dorset prior to taking up a place at Cardiff Metropolitan University, where he starred at scrum-half, going on to earn a contract at the Arms Park to break into Dai Young’s first team last season.
Josh Thomas It will be interesting to see how the young fly-half from Penllergaer, near Gorseinon, gets on at Newcastle, having moved on from the Ospreys after 17 games for the region.
FRONT ROW Harri O’Connor
Young tightheads are worth their weight in gold, so the progress O’Connor has made with the Scarlets over the past year – culminating in his call-up for Wales’ tour of South Africa – has been a real plus. Born in Yorkshire, he was part of the Bath academy before heading for Llandovery College. Qualifies for Wales through his father who is from Bonymaen.
Oliver Burrows Born in Neath, the 6ft 2ins, 17st 3lbs hooker is part of the young Welsh contingent at Exeter. Has won representative honours at U18s and U20s.
Nathan Evans The Cardiff-born tighthead prop is now a real seasoned campaigner for Wales U20s, having won no fewer than 13 caps at that level. Weighs in at 18st 10lbs.
Lewys Jones A tale with a difference, with the tighthead prop from Ystalyfera having headed for central France to play club rugby for Nevers. Rhys Barratt
The Cardiff loosehead brings real mobility as he showed with his try for Wales U20s against Scotland, picking up from a ruck and running in from some 20 metres, going outside the covering last man. Efan Daniel A former Treorchy Comprehensive School pupil, he made his regional bow with Cardiff last season, showing up well in the victory over Leinster on his debut.
Was the first hooker to get a start for Wales U20s in the summer. Joe Cowell It was quite some story when the Cardiff Met student was called up to play for Covid-isolation depleted Cardiff against Toulouse last December.
He didn’t let himself down. Adam Williams A 20-year-old tighthead prop with the Dragons who got a good amount of game time for Wales U20s in the summer out in Italy.
SECOND ROW Dafydd Jenkins His Exeter and Wales U20s second row pal Christ Tshiunza has already played Test rugby and you wouldn’t bet against Jenkins following suit.
The son of former Swansea and Neath back-row forward Hywel, he has the size and he has the athleticism. Teddy Williams An athletic, mobile forward on the books at the Arms Park, he is the son of former Bridgend and Cardiff back rower Owain Williams, a popular figure who was capped by Wales back in 1990 and sadly passed away last year.
Joe Peard Having come through the Dragons academy, he has now joined Cardiff. As Dai Young says of him: “At 6ft 8in and almost 20 stone, he brings something we don’t have a lot of in Wales and that’s size.
You simply cannot coach that. He brings a physical and destructive presence. He’s like an old-fashioned, tight second-row, who is also athletic.”
Caleb Salmon A product of Haverfordwest and Fishguard RFC, the Scarlets teenager can slot in at both lock and in the back row. Has a good set-piece skill-set, is aggressive with and without the ball and has a very decent offload game.
Mackenzie Martin Another versatile and physical back five forward who covered the second row for Wales U20s this summer. Was influential in Cardiff and Vale College’s title win last season.
Jac Price As well as regional outings with the Scarlets, he has also gained experience with his home-town club Carmarthen Quins and out on loan with Nottingham RFC. A hard worker.
BACK ROW Carwyn Tuipulotu The son of Tongan international Kati Tuipulotu who played for Ebbw Vale, Neath and Dunvant.
Born in Gwent, he moved to Merseyside at a young age and went on study at Sedbergh School and join the Newcastle academy. But this barnstorming No.
8 is now back in Wales with the Scarlets. Ryan Woodman
Wales U20s coach Byron Hayward is a big fan of the Dragons teenager who can pack down both in the back row and at lock. He has even said he would stick his life on Woodman playing for Wales in the 2027 World Cup. Alex Mann
Was on the books of Cardiff City as a promising centre-half in his mid-teens, before focusing on rugby, having started out with his home-town club of Aberdare RFC. The Cardiff flanker was an inspirational captain for Wales U20s last season.
Alex Mann captaining Wales U20s (Image: Huw Evans Picture Agency)
Morgan Morse He was just 17 and still at school in Ystalyfera when he was propelled into the Wales U20s Six Nations squad at the beginning of the year.
He carries strongly and is physical in the contact area, while also having a nice off-loading game. The teenage Ospreys No.
8 looks to have a bright future. Harri Deaves
After going 790 days without a game of rugby due to injury and the pandemic, he returned with a bang for Wales U20s last summer and continued to impress for the Ospreys with his work-rate on the openside. Brings pace, intensity and rugby intelligence. Benji Williams
Began his rugby journey with Glamorgan Wanderers, going on to study at Cowbridge School and Hartpury College, linking up with Gloucester before joining the Ospreys as a No.
8. Ben Moa The son of former Bridgend prop Uiniati Moa who played for Tonga in the late 1990s.
8 with the Dragons, he has been part of the Ebbw Vale set-up. Tom Cowan Born in Wrexham while his father was stationed near there with the Army.
Brought up in Chippenham, the Bath blindside was invited to the England U20s camp but turned down the opportunity in order to play for Wales U20s, making a big impression with his carrying and tackling in this year’s Six Nations. Gwilym Bradley Born in England and raised in Kingston-on-Thames, he played his junior rugby for Cobham RFC before linking up with London Irish.
But his mother is from Newport, which led to him playing for Wales U19s and U20s and earning a Cardiff contract. An openside flanker who lists Sam Warburton as his role model. Ethan Fackrell
Yet another No.
7 off the production line. A real terrier over the ball, puts in a stack of tackles and offers classic openside support. Just never stops.
He is joining RGC for next season, having previously been there on loan from Cardiff. Ben Williams Started out with Gilfach Goch RFC and has gone on to shine on the blindside flank for Aberavon, earning selection for Wales U20s this summer.
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