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U’21s Squad Announced To Face New Zealand On Friday 29th November At Arms Park

U’21s Squad Announced To Face New Zealand On Friday 29th November At Arms Park

From Phil Jones

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Chris Stamatakis is the surprise inclusion in the Wales U’21s 31-strong squad to face New Zealand next friday at the Arms Park.

The Cardiff lock, one of the most talented forwards on the Welsh scene, has been sidelined all season and will have to prove his fitness at Mondays squad training session at Sophia Gardens if he is to make the starting line-up against the tourists. New Zealand heavily defeated the Welsh youngsters in their two World Cup clashes in the summer.

The return of Stamatakis will be a huge boost for the Welsh management who have already lost the services of Newport lock Luke Charteris who has failed a fitness test on his knee, with Bryn Griffiths (Llanelli) and James Goode (Cardiff) the only two fit second rows although Pontypridd’s Lee Beach could be used as cover.

Robin Sowden-Taylor has also been included in the squad despite his recent return to competitive action as Cardiff supply six players as Nicky Robinson, Nick Macleod and James Malpas are also named in the first U’21s squad to be announced this season.

One notable absentee is Cardiff skipper Chris Miller, who having been involved in the World Cup, has been ommitted in favour of Alun Lake (Bridgend) and Ricky Richards (Neath), with Llanelli’s Mike Phillips, one of the finds of last season, almost certain of facing the All Blacks for the third time this year.

Pontypridd are well represented with Matthew Nuttall, flanker Mark Lewis and props Geraint Morris and Ashley Copic joining Beach in the squad.

Nuttall is well known to the Welsh selectors and while his home club look to utilise his pace and strength at fullback, the Ynysbwyl youngster played on the wing in the first trial last week. However, an injury to Swansea’s Gareth Swales enabled Nuttall to move to his favoured fullback position from which he scored a try and looked assured in defense.

Ponty skipper Mark Lewis has been in fine form for the Sardis Road side throughout the season and his hard working style of play will be needed against the tourists, while both props are likely to feature in the game.

Keiran Crawford and Kristian Gay are Ebbw Vale’s two representatives in the squad, with Crawford looking to add a Wales U’21s cap to his Youth and FIRA honours.

Now settled in the hookers berth, Crawford secured his Youth cap at flanker before moving to the front row to join Gay, while Daniel Godfrey will be disappointed to have missed out this time round after fighting back to full fitness after an early season illness.

Centre Scott Williams, fly half Michael Hook, hooker T.Rhys Thomas and prop Rhys Thomas have all been included from Rodney Parade.

‘I am naturally pleased for all the players who have made the squad but equally disappointed for those who been left out. Hopefully they will continue their form and look forward to the Six Nations,’ said Newport U’21s team manager Nick McCreedy.

Aled James (Glamorgan Wanderers) is the only non-premier division player named in the squad while wing Matthew Owen forced his way into the squad after scoring seven tries in two trial games.

The Bridgend flyer is included along with centre David Bishop and scrum half Lake from the Brewery Field.

Wales U’21s:

G.Swales (Swansea); J.Vaughton (Swansea), M.Owen (Bridgend), S.Williams (Newport), M.Nuttall (Pontypridd), N.Macleod (Cardiff), L.Beach (Pontypridd), P.James (Neath), K.Crawford (Ebbw Vale), K.Gay (Ebbw Vale), A.Copic (Pontypridd), J.Malpas (Cardiff), M.Lewis (Pontypridd) B.Griffiths (Llanelli), R.Richards (Neath), N.Robinson (Cardiff), D.Bishop (Bridgend), J.Leyshon (Neath), A.James (Glam.Wanderers), M.Hook (Newport), M.Phillips (Llanelli), A.Lake (Bridgend), G.Morris (Pontypridd), T.Rhys Thomas (Newport), J.Thomas (Swansea), R.Thomas (Newport), C.Stamatakis (Cardiff), J.Goode (Cardiff), R.Sowden-Taylor (Cardiff), R.Pugh (Swansea)

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