Joe Hawkins to captain Wales in Six Nations Under-20s clash with France

Ospreys centre Joe Hawkins will captain Wales in their Six Nations Under-20s game against France following Alex Mann’s suspension.

Ospreys centre Joe Hawkins will captain Wales in their Six Nations Under-20s game against France following Alex Mann’s suspension.

Wales Under-20s head coach Byron Hayward has made six changes from the side that lost 43-14 against England in Round 3.

Mann’s suspension for his red card in that game is three weeks meaning that the Wales Under-20s captain will miss this week’s game, as well as the clash with Italy ten days later.

With Mann absent, Hawkins was an obvious choice to replace him as captain, said Hayward.

He said: “Joe took over the captaincy when Alex went off against England.

“This is his third year with U20s, and in terms of experience, he is a regional player. He’s played regional level at 10 as well, and he has been a leader here since the day he arrived.

“Not every player wants the responsibility of leading their country, but Joe is relishing the opportunity and is good to go.”

With Mann unavailable, Morgan Morse will make his first start of the campaign, while Cardiff Met’s Joe Cowell takes over from Rhys Barratt at loosehead prop.

Elsewhere in the pack, Ryan Woodman returns in the second row to replace Dragons Rugby teammate Joe Peard.

Swansea University’s Ben Gregory replaces the injured Tom Cowan at blindside flanker.

The other two changes come in the backs where Tom Florence gets his first start of the campaign, replacing Cameron Winnett on the wing, who moves down to the bench.

Meanwhile, Harlequins’ Bryn Bradley will make his first appearance since the opening round 53-5 defeat against Ireland, with Eddie James making way in the midfield.

Hayward added: “We will have to match them physically because once they build momentum and get one or two quick gain lines, then it’s very difficult to stop them, so our focus point it is to stop it at the source.

“Their biggest threat is their set-piece – I think they have stolen the most lineouts in the tournament, and they have a strong scrum, so they will look to dominate up front.

“They’re big and on average have 16 offloads a game, and that would be the highest in the tournament by quite some way.

“They are obviously a very direct team, and they look to win collisions. They flood the line with support players to keep the continuity in the game through the offloads.”

France are currently in third place on the points table, six points ahead of Wales in fourth.

Wales U20s v France U20s, Parc Eirias, Thurs 10 March, KO 8pm (BBC2 Wales)

15 Iestyn Hopkins (Ospreys)

14 Harri Houston (Ospreys)

13 Bryn Bradley (Harlequins)

12 Joe Hawkins (Ospreys – Capt)

11 Tom Florence (Ospreys)

10 Jac Lloyd (Bristol Bears)

9 Morgan Lloyd (Dragons)

1 Joe Cowell (Cardiff Met)

2 Morgan Veness (Ealing Trailfinders)

3 Adam Williams (Dragons)

4 Benji Williams (Ospreys)

5 Ryan Woodman (Dragons)

6 Ben Gregory (Swansea University)

7 Ethan Fackrell (Cardiff Rugby)

8 Morgan Morse (Ospreys)


16 Connor Chapman (Dragons)

17 Cameron Jones (Ospreys)

18 Nathan Evans (Cardiff Rugby)

19 Lewis Jones (Ospreys)

20 Ben Moa (Dragons)

21 Harri Williams (Scarlets)

22 Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby)

23 Eddie James (Scarlets)