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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 June, 2005, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Merriman leads U21 RWC challenge
Wales Under-21 captain James Merriman
Merriman's Grand Slam-winning team have been weakened
Gloucester flanker James Merriman will lead a weakened Wales 26-man squad in June's Under-21 World Cup in Argentina.

The Dragons are missing senior Wales tourists Chris Czekaj and Matthew Jones while injury and other commitments rule out seven more first-choice squad men.

"It means youngsters have the chance to fill the boots of our missing Grand Slam players," said manager Wayne Hall.

Wales play New Zealand in the World Cup's opening game on 9 June in Liceo, before facing Scotland and Argentina.

The Scotland game will be in Maristas (13 June), and the Argentina fixture at Chacras (17 June).

Our aim has to be to reach the semi-finals and anything after that would be a bonus
Wales Under-21 manager Wayne Hall
Despite the glory of a Grand Slam clean sweep this winter, with all the missing players Hall says the World Cup is primarily about the future.

"The tournament is absolutely vital for the development of our players as it exposes them to the southern hemisphere teams in a one-off experience of playing at this highest level," he said.

"Of course it was great winning the Grand Slam again and being at the top of the tree in our own hemisphere, but we have to set our sights even higher if we are to progress.

"Our aim has to be to reach the semi-finals and anything after that would be a bonus."

Richard Fussell, Jamie Roberts, David Watts, Dafydd Lockyer, David Flanagan, Gerwyn Price, Thomas Hearne, Sam Wahdan and Dominic Day are the uncapped Under-21 players in the squad.

Wales Under-21 squad for the Rugby World Cup:

Backs: Ricky Williams (Newport), Aled Brew (Neath/Ospreys), Richard Fussell (Newport Gwent Dragons), Jamie Roberts (Cardiff), Andrew Bishop (Neath/Ospreys), Steve Ireland (Newport), David Watts (Swansea), Dafydd Lockyer (Pontypridd), Aled Thomas (Newport Gwent Dragons), David Flanagan (Pontypridd), Wayne Evans (Cardiff Blues), James Ireland (Newport Gwent Dragons)

Forwards: Gerwyn Price (Neath), Rhys James (Newport), Scott Roberts (Cardiff Blues), Phillip Osborne (Newport), Cai Griffiths (Neath/Ospreys), Thomas Hearne (Caerphilly), Alun Wyn Jones (Swansea/Ospreys), Sam Wahdan (UWIC), Dominic Day (Llanelli), Jonathan Mills (Llanelli/Llanelli Scarlets), Chris Davies (Newport Gwent Dragons), James Merriman (Hartpury College/Gloucester, captain), Rhys Shellard (Pontypridd), Tom Smith (Neath)

Manager: Wayne Hall

Head coach: Chris Davey

Assistant coach: Dai Rees


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ALSO IN THIS SECTION Wales' rugby fixtures
Wales results archive
Rugby World Cup fixtures and results
Heineken Cup

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