Those wanting a peep into the future would have been left a shade perplexed after watching Wales in the U20s Six Nations last season.
The omens seemed bright on the strength of an away win over England and a battling home success over France. In the game against England, in particular, Gareth Williams’ side looked inventive and clever, with quick and sharp backs backing up a strong forward effort.
But the rest of the story wasn’t so bright.
A 17-7 defeat by Italy in Colwyn Bay flattered Wales and they also came unstuck 36-22 against Ireland.
They then saved their worst for last as they succumed 52-17 to Scotland at the Zipworld Stadium.
Inconsistency then — the curse of young players.
What’s it going to be in this Six Nations?
Williams is set to announce his squad next week for a tournament that will be played at the Arms Park amid the pandemic.
Here are some of the players likely to be involved.
The rangy Exeter Chiefs lock featured in a friendly for England U20s against London Irish U23s in March, raising concern that he might be slipping off Wales’ radar.
But the Welsh Rugby Union subsequently issued a statement saying they were aware of the youngster’s involvement with England in various match scenarios and the game exposure would be good for Tshiunza because of his lack of rugby owing to the pandemic.
Anyway, worries outside the union that the lock might be the subject of a poaching exercise do not appear to have substance.
When the WRU announced on social media last week that the U20s Six Nations would be played at Cardiff Arms Park this summer, Tshiunza retweeted with the message: “Lesss gooo.”
Sherlock Holmes wasn’t needed to suggest it could be an indication he’ll be lining up for Wales in the tournament.
The product of Whitchurch High School has ‘ big potentia l’ written all over him. Not only does he carry the ball well, he has handling skills and boasts physicality. Barely 20 months ago, the BBC were describing him as “one of the most sought-after teenage properties in British rugby”. The pandemic then intervened.
But Exeter have been impressed with him and he was added to their European squad this season.
Wales have high hopes for him. You can read more about Tshiunza here.
This is the multi-talented lad to whom the Scarlets handed a five-year contract in 2019, when he was a 16-year-old schoolboy in Ipswich.
Colchester United football club were also said to be interested in him.
And he was a good enough tennis player to be ranked third best in his age group in England.
Little has been heard of the St Joseph’s school product since, but, quietly, he’s been developing nicely. He’s been training with the Scarlets’ senior squad and is recently said to have caught the eye of Wayne Pivac. Not short of confidence or skill, he is said to have X-factor potential that could take him far.
The Scarlets have another emerging scrum-half talent in Luke Davies, but he has been sidelined by a shoulder injury.
Williams qualifies for Wales through his Welsh dad and left the English pathway to join the Scarlets.
Blessed with a fast pass and an eye for a gap, he’s a youngster we will hear more about.
He’s just turned 20 but the loosehead prop has already taken the field three times for the Ospreys. When he came on with 25 minutes left against Leinster in Dublin, he achieved a key turnover that helped win Toby Booth’s side the game.
The 6ft, 17st 4lb product of Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun in the Rhondda can also scrummage.
Under Duncan Jones tutelage at the Ospreys, he’s showing all the right signs.
The Scarlets have been bringing the 19-year-old through at the right pace, not expecting too much too soon. The focus of much attention at a young age, the former Sedbergh schoolboy has immense power as a carrier and crashed through tackles for fun in junior rugby, earning himself a reputation as a battering ram.
The senior game is a huge step up, with altogether different challenges for a young forward, but Tuipulotu has played four times already for the Scarlets and has the raw potential to come through if he continues to apply himself.
He’s only 18, but he’s a powerful specimen who fronted up against Jamie Roberts and Nick Tompkins earlier this year. Summoned from the Ospreys’ bench against the Dragons after 26 minutes, the 6ft, 15st 6lb centre helped keep the pair in check and also made headway with ball in hand.
His solidly helped the Liberty Stadium team achieve a 28-20 victory.
The son of former Aberavon RFC centre David Hawkins, he has a big boot on him and is viewed as a player with the scope to establish himself.
The hooker is a former Wales U-18s captain who’s now operating out of Exeter Chiefs having initially headed for Millfield School.
Burrows started his journey with the Ospreys.
He only turned 19 this month, but he’s on a four-year deal with Exeter and is thought highly of.
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Paul John’s son is on Exeter Chiefs’ books as well.
The versatile youngster, who can play at wing, centre, full-back or fly-half, is quick and skilful.
He’s already played for Exeter.
It’s unclear whether Wales will use players like Sam Costelow and Ben Carter, both of whom have made strides on the senior scene this term, and it will be interesting to see whether they call up John.
But he has a lot to offer.