With Dragons RFC flanker Ryan Woodman ruled out with a broken thumb, his regional teammate Harri Ackerman has been named as captain.
The squad contains 11 players who have represented Wales at U20 level previously – Dragons full back Huw Anderson was in last year’s U20 World Rugby squad, but didn’t get any game time in South Africa so is still yet to earn his first cap.
Wales have prepared for the championship with two healthy wins against Aberavon and Swansea University where a number of players impressed Whiffin.
“We gave pretty much all the squad the opportunity over the two games bar the boys playing for their regions, so we got to see a lot of guys play and loads of players put their hands up so ultimately it is a team picked on form,” he said.
Against Aberavon we managed to see a lot of boys play senior rugby for the first time and they fronted up well and showed our fitness levels are strong. It was a different challenge against Swansea Uni where we gave some other players chances and that enabled me and the coaches to pick the squad and understand where the strength is. If we pick up injuries during the tournament, we know who the next cabs off the rank are.
“We’ve got a pretty physical, quick mobile pack with the ability to really test teams through our power. In the backline we have got some really good wheels out in the wide channels, and we’ve also got ball players that can feed them – and I certainly saw that over the two games in preparation.
“We’ve definitely got a team with the ability to move the ball which is how I like to see the game played but we’ve also got some smarts tactically which will put us in the right areas of the field.”
Ackerman, along with Morgan Morse and Lucas de la Rua have been getting plenty of game time with their regions in the United Rugby Championship and in Europe and Whiffin is eager for them to lead the way in his young group.
“We want them to come back and impart that knowledge and raise the levels of our training, raise the levels of our team to give us a better chance of being successful so hopefully those guys coming back will enjoy the added leadership they will get from the campaign and that will only improve them too.”
The coaching team has also now been confirmed with Scott Sneddon, Sam Hobbs and Richie Pugh joining Whiffin.
“I’m really pleased with the group we have put together. Scott Sneddon from the Scarlets has done a great job on our defence. He has linked up well with Mike Forshaw from the senior team ensuring we’re getting good alignment between the seniors and Under 20s.
“Sam Hobbs from the Dragons will be doing our forwards – he’s been integral to the pathway over the last few years, being heavily involved through U18s and this is a good step up for him to take on the U20s – he has a great knowledge of the pathway and the players around it and he has been invaluable to me so far.
“Richie Pugh who heads up the U18s and has been working up and down the pathway with me so we have a strong coaching group which can hopefully give the boys the right messages and platform to work off.”
With Wales hosting Scotland in Colwyn Bay on the opening night of action, Whiffin is hoping Stadiwm CSM will be full of vocal support.
“It’s been awesome working day in day out over the past couple of weeks on the U20s. It’s only two weeks out before the first game up in North Wales. It would be great to get good support there and get the tournament up and running on a great note.”
Wales U20s Six Nations squad
FORWARDS (21) Freddie Chapman (Ospreys) Jordan Morris (Dragons) Josh Morse (Scarlets) Louie Trevett (Bristol Bears) Harry Thomas (Scarlets) Evan Wood (Cardiff Met) Will Austin (Sale Sharks) Kian Hire (Ospreys) Sam Scott (Midlands Central) Patrick Nelson (RGC) Jonny Green (Harlequins) Lewis Marsh (Ospreys) Nick Thomas (Dragons) Tom Golder (Harlequins) Osian Thomas (Leicester Tigers) Will Plessis (Scarlets) Lucas de la Rua (Cardiff Rugby) Harri Beddall (Leicester Tigers) Luca Giannini (Scarlets) Morgan Morse (Ospreys) Owen Conquer (Ebbw Vale)
BACKS (16) Ieuan Davies (Bath Rugby) Rhodri Lewis (Ospreys) Lucca Setaro (Scarlets) Harri Wilde (Cardiff Rugby) Harri Ford (RGC) Harri Ackerman (Dragons – Capt) Macs Page (Scarlets) Louie Hennessey (Bath Rugby) Gabe McDonald (Scarlets) Harry Rees-Weldon (Dragons) Walker Price (Dragons) Aiden Boschoff (Bristol Bears) Kodi Stone (Cardiff Rugby) Scott Delnevo (Aberavon) Huw Anderson (Dragons) Matty Young (Cardiff Rugby)
Fixtures Fri 2 Feb, Wales v Scotland – Stadium CSM, KO 6.45pm Fri 9 Feb, England v Wales, Recreation Ground, KO 7.15pm Fri 23 Feb, Ireland v Wales, Virgin Media Park, KO 7.15pm Thurs 7 March, Wales v France, Cardiff Arms Park, 7.45pm Fri 15th March, Wales v Italy, Cardiff Arms Park, 7.30pm