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Young guns to reap rewards of U20s campaign

5th July 2017

Richard Hodges reckons Cardiff Blues' young guns will reap the rewards from their exposure in the World Rugby U20s Championships.

The Blues contributed more players to Wales U20s than any other region with several starring throughout.
Shane Lewis-Hughes made more tackles than any other player in the tournament, props Rhys Carre and Keiron Assiratti were part of a dominant scrum throughout and Owen Lane started every game.
Hodges is also an assistant coach with the Wales U20s set-up and he believes the experience will be hugely beneficial.
Hodges said: “Our priority at Wales U20s level is to develop players, whether for the senior team, the regions or clubs. It is all about giving them the best experience possible.  You saw with the Seniors side against Tonga and Samoa just how important this tier of development is for producing players."
“While we were disappointed to finish seventh our losses were all very tight and could have gone either way – the boys will take a lot from that and from the quality of rugby they were exposed to.

“From a Cardiff Blues perspective it was superb to have so many boys involved and a number of them really stood up and impressed.
“Someone like Keiron Assiratti has already had a taste of senior regional rugby and the challenge for these boys is now to put their hands up in training and games for an opportunity with the Blues. 

“The level of rugby they played and the lessons they learnt will certainly be of huge benefit to them going into pre-season training with the Blues.”
The likes of Rhys Carre, Dane Blacker and Ben Jones also have another year of eligibility for the U20s.
Following Wales’ seventh-place finish they will share a group with new champions New Zealand and Australia in next year’s tournament.
And while Hodges admits it will be a daunting challenge, he could not ask for better opportunities for the players in their continued development.
He added: “With the way the system works, you generally have two year cycles and a large percentage of this year’s squad will be available in 2018.
“In terms of experience and rugby development, you could not ask for better opportunities than a full Six Nations and then New Zealand and Australia - at least seven high quality fixtures for them to be exposed to.  The boys will take a huge amount from that as will we as coaches.”